The importance of detecting oral cancer as early as possible can’t be overstated. At Creekside Dental, oral cancer screenings are part of every dental exam we perform. The sooner oral cancer is detected, the less extensive and invasive treatment can be. As with other cancers, early detection also increases prognosis for a more favorable outcome.

Tobacco use and heavy alcohol use are major contributors to oral cancers, especially when they are used in combination with each other. A growing cause for oropharyngeal cancers is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Less serious oral conditions which can be present include herpes virus ulcers, also known as cold sores, traumatic injuries or ulcers, and aphthous ulcers (canker sores). Most of these will resolve on their own within a couple of weeks, and there are treatments available to help speed healing. However, if sores persist for more than two weeks, we recommend visiting your dentist or physician. Any unresolved sore or lesion should be evaluated.

The importance of catching cancer early

Some signs of oral cancer include a lump or thickening of a cheek, and white, red, or bleeding areas anywhere in the mouth. There can also be numbness, pain, swelling, or difficulty swallowing. Sometimes there will be a lump or swelling on the cheek, under the chin, or in the neck.

For obvious reasons, the sooner cancer is found the better. Early detection increases treatment options, treatment outcomes, and survival rates.

There are other dental problems that may cause similar symptoms and are important to address to improve your oral and overall health. Dental decay and periodontal disease are two common dental problems that can lead to pain, swelling, and bleeding. Failing restorations or ill-fitting dentures can cause sores in the mouth as well.

Oral Cancer Treatments

Surgery to remove the cancerous area and surrounding tissue is often the first line of treatment for oral cancers. Depending on the outcome of the surgery, other treatments may be used such as radiation or chemotherapy.

Advances in cancer treatment are improving survival rates, but the biggest key is detecting cancer as soon as possible. If you have questions or concerns about sores, pain, or any other issues in your mouth, or if you want to have a screening for oral cancer, Contact Creekside Dental today for an appointment.