Mouth Cancer Screenings in Vancouver
Mouth cancer, also known as “oral cancer”, is a potentially deadly oral disease. It can manifest in a number of different ways, including a lesion in the mouth, commonly found on the tongue, gums, lips, or palate. It can also metastasize from a nearby structure such as the nasal cavity. The lethal nature of mouth cancer means that early detection and action are crucial in providing the best possible chance of remission and survival.
Mouth cancer – or cancer of any form for that matter – can be a sensitive subject to address. It can put an overwhelming amount of strain and stress on families and friends of those it affects. It is undoubtedly one of the most harrowing ordeals we may encounter in life. The caring and professional staff at Dentist on Kingsway are committed to early detection and treatment of oral cancer. We work tirelessly to ensure that patients and their families have the information and resources they need to face cancer from the early stages of detection and beyond. Let’s take a closer look into exactly what oral cancer is and what regular mouth cancer screenings can mean for our Vancouver patients.
What Is Oral Cancer?
All cancer is caused by a mutation of the DNA which promotes the growth of cancerous cells which can spread throughout the body. All DNA mutations are random and may occur in anyone at any time. However, there are several factors which may increase the risk of a cancerous mutation developing in a given region. A reported 75% of oral cancers develop as a result of modifiable lifestyle choices such as the use of tobacco, the excessive consumption of alcohol, poor nutrition, and the neglect of oral hygiene.
While there are several types of oral cancer, an estimated 90% of mouth cancer cases occur in the form of a squamous cell carcinoma. Let’s break down what that means. A squamous cell is a form of epithelial cell found on the skin and in certain regions within the body. “Carcinoma” refers to cancers which develop within epithelial cells. In short, 90% of oral cancer cases develop as a form of cancer found within a specific type of skin cell. The 1-year survival rate for patients with oral cancer is estimated to be around 81% with the 5- and 10-year survival rates estimated at around 56% and 41%, respectively.
There are a number of early warning signs which may be used to help detect oral cancer. The most common warning sign for oral cancer is a lesion or lump in the mouth, often of a white or pale color, which does not heal and disappear within the span of two weeks. Pain, soreness, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty moving the tongue may also be early indicators of mouth cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment for a oral cancer screening with the experts at Dentist on Kingsway immediately.
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral cancer screening is the first and best line of defence against the development of mouth cancer. A cancer screening is used to detect and officially diagnose the presence of a cancerous growth. An oral cancer screening begins with a thorough visual examination. It may feel like your dentist is examining your entire head, but it is important to remember that cancer may spread to the mouth from nearby areas of the head and neck. If your dentist believes you may have or be at risk of developing oral cancer, a biopsy may be performed.
A biopsy involves scraping a sample of skin cells from the suspected area to test for the presence of cancerous cells. This procedure is typically painless. Should a larger tissue sample be required, however, a scalpel biopsy may be performed. This will likely require the use of a mild anesthetic and should be relatively painless as a result. Once a sample is collected, the tissue will be sent to a lab for testing and to ultimately confirm the presence of cancer.
Cancer is a serious and deadly disease and screenings can be stressful and scary. However, early detection can make a world of difference and the well-trained dentists at Dentist on Kingsway will be there to make sure you stay informed and to ensure that your screening goes smoothly.
If you would like to schedule an oral cancer screening, contact the friendly and professional staff at Dentist on Kingsway today. You can reach the staff at Dentist on Kingsway over the phone at (604) 558-2442 or request an appointment online.
The estimated cost of an oral cancer screening may vary based on a number of factors. However, screenings, on average, are typically reported to be less than $100. Some or all of this cost may be covered depending on your insurance coverage and provider.
Should the presence of cancerous growth be confirmed, your next step will likely be to schedule an appointment with a oral cancer specialist who will be able to determine the plan of attack for treating and beating the cancer.
Oral cancer screenings may involve exposure to radiation from x-rays and other imaging technologies. Like any cancer screening, the stress and anxiety can take a toll on your mental health. However, the potential dangers of radiation exposure and mental distress typically pale in comparison to the hazards and consequences associated with letting oral cancer develop undetected. Again, early detection and treatment can make a world of difference when it comes to battling cancer.