According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 9,000 women and 21,000 men receive an oral cancer diagnosis every year. But the good news is that this disease is highly treatable when it’s caught early. In fact, with early detection, the survival rate is 85-90%. That’s why it’s so important to get regular screenings for oral cancer in Arlington Heights. What’s the easiest way to do that? Schedule a checkup! In this blog, you’ll learn about the most common causes of oral cancer and find out how simple a screening is. Find out more below!
What Are the Risk Factors?
Sadly, oral cancer rates have increased in recent years. And dentists and doctors have been surprised that it’s even being found in young people who don’t smoke. Here are the most common risk factors:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- A weakened immune system
- Heavy drinking
Oral cancer often affects the tissues inside the mouth such as the tongue or back of the throat. However, there’s also a type of skin cancer called melanoma that occurs on the border of the lips, so it’s important to regularly wear lip balm that has sun protection.
What Can You Expect From a Screening?
One of the best things about an oral cancer screening is that it’s non-invasive and simple. Not to mention convenient since you’re at the dentist twice a year anyway!
A dentist and hygienist will both begin by simply looking closely at your lips, cheeks, throat, palate, and under your tongue. They may also gently palpate your neck and under your jaw to see if there are any lumps, bumps, or tender areas.
You may also be asked if you’ve had any of the following symptoms:
- Stiffness or pain in the jaw.
- A chronic sore throat.
- A lump or bump that’s developed recently.
- A feeling that something is stuck in your throat.
- Any sores or lesions that haven’t healed on their own within two weeks.
- Trouble chewing or swallowing.
And, while it’s easy to panic if you notice any of these signs, remember that there are many non-cancerous conditions that can look similar, such as cold sores, canker sores, or benign lumps of fatty tissue.
With modern healthcare, treatment is better than ever. And with regular checkups, you’ll automatically be screened to make sure potential issues are found as early as possible!
About the Author
Regarded by patients and peers alike as one of the best dentists in Arlington Heights, Dr. Scott Christian is dedicated to providing thorough, comprehensive dentistry, including oral cancer screenings at each checkup. He also takes the time to educate his patients on the risk factors and what they can do to minimize those risks. If you have any other questions about oral cancer or would like to schedule a checkup, he can be reached through his website.