Oral Cancer Screening: Early Diagnosis is Key to Fighting the Disease
The late detection of oral cancer dramatically decreases the survival rate for patients. Early diagnosis during an oral cancer examination at your dental office is often the first line of defense in successfully treating this serious disease.
An oral cancer screening at Czaplicki Family Dentistry, performed at our Milwaukee, WI, office, includes a visual and tactile examination. Drs. Don Czaplicki, Cathleen Czaplicki, or Heather Harris will check your lips, tongue, and other soft tissues for any abnormalities, and if any signs are detected, we will take a small tissue sample or refer you to a specialist for further laboratory testing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 30,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every year, and over 8,000 related deaths occur. The five-year survival rate for this type of cancer is only about 50 percent.
The failure to detect oral cancer in its early stages is the main reason that this death rate is so high. Early diagnosis of abnormalities is vital for improving a patient's chances of survival.
Early diagnosis, aided by a convenient and easy screening at your regular dental checkups, is the best defense against oral cancer.
Patients over the age of 40 who regularly smoke or chew tobacco are at the greatest risk of developing oral cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption combined with tobacco use further increases the risk of developing this cancer. The risk is also increased for patients who suffer from systemic diseases that weaken the immune system, as well as for patients who have experienced oral cancer in the past. In addition, research indicates that a sexually transmitted disease called human papillomavirus (HPV) can also increase the chances of oral cancer.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer often goes undetected to the untrained eye, since it is often asymptomatic in its early stages. The cancer is often only detected after it has spread to another location, like the lymph nodes.
Oral cancer often manifests as a small white or red patch on the lips, gums, tongue, palate, or the inside of the cheek. Advanced symptoms can include chronic mouth sores and ulcers, a constant sore throat, difficulty swallowing, numbness in the mouth, or teeth loosening in the absence of gum disease.
Screening at Your Dentist's Office
Our doctors advocate for regular checkups and preventive screenings, including for oral cancer. During a routine dental examination at our office, Drs. Czaplicki or Harris will carefully examine your entire mouth for symptoms of oral cancer. If abnormalities are detected, your dentist may perform a brush test and collect cells to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. If the test detects precancerous cells, your doctor will direct you to a specialist who can continue your treatment. In addition, our team will continue to provide monitoring during periodic checkups.
Schedule a Consultation
Early diagnosis, aided by a convenient and easy screening at your regular dental checkups, is the best defense against oral cancer. Contact us to learn more about oral cancer examinations and to schedule a consultation.