Oral Cancer Screening: The lifesaving decision

Oral Cancer Screening: The lifesaving decision

Oral cancer is a condition that can be effectively treated when detected in its earliest stages, but unfortunately, the cancer isn’t caught until it has already advanced significantly in some patients, sometimes even after it has already metastasized.

As oral cancer progresses, the treatments become more invasive, sometimes requiring extensive oral surgery to repair damage and even restore bone structure in some cases. That is for the patients who are fortunate enough to survive the disease. For late-stage cancers, particularly stage four, the five-year survival rate is less than 50 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.

The good news is that oral cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence, if you are screened by an oral surgeon or other dental professional on a regular basis and stay alert for any potentially problematic symptoms. [pullquote]Oral cancer is a condition that can be effectively treated when detected in its earliest stages…[/pullquote]

Sometimes, the patient becomes aware of a problematic spot in the soft tissues of the mouth and brings it to the attention of a dental professional. Your own insights into what is normal for your body and what isn’t can be tremendously valuable in identifying cancer at an early stage.

If you notice a suspicious lesion or lump in the hard or soft oral tissues or if a dental professional identifies a spot of concern, the oral surgeon likely will remove some of the suspicious tissue for a biopsy to determine if a malignancy is present. This is a very minor oral surgery and should involve minimal discomfort.

In addition to providing a diagnosis, that biopsy may also indicate an appropriate treatment, which may involve more surgery or a referral to an oncologist.

Incidences of oral cancer are on the rise, so it’s wise to be screened for this condition on a regular basis. Fortunately, the death rates from oral cancer are declining because people are getting diagnosed earlier. Between regular self-examinations and professional screenings, you may be able to prevent oral cancer from progressing.