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Oral Cancer Screening


If you know someone who has cancer, you are not alone. Fifty-four percent of adults in the United States have had a family member diagnosed with cancer. A third of all American adults know someone who has died from cancer. Eighty percent of Americans have had a family member or friend diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is pervasive in our society. That is why we want you to take care of yourself. One way that you can take care of yourself is to get cancer screenings done. Did you know that Spektor Dental does a cancer screening twice a year when you come and see us? Let us take a minute to tell you about oral cancer screening.

Oral Cancer


Over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. Around 10,000 people die from oral cancer each year. Oral cancer can be very disfiguring also. You are at a greater risk for oral cancer if you are a smoker. You are also at a higher risk for cancer if you drink heavily. People are also at a higher risk of oral cancer if they have had the human papilloma virus. People who suntanned often without protecting their lips are also at a higher cancer risk.

If oral cancer is caught early, the success rate for treatment is very high. However, oral cancer is difficult to catch, because it is not painful. Also, it is not easily seen. When you start to notice pain in your mouth from oral cancer, it makes it much more difficult to treat. That's where we come in.

Cancer Screening


Oral cancer screening is actually quite simple. First, we look at your mouth when we do your twice-yearly dental exam. We look for spots or bumps on your tongue, gums, cheeks, and palates. There are lots of spots in your mouth that have nothing to do with cancer. For example, many people get bone spurs in their mouth, which show up as bumps on your gums. They are totally harmless.

If we are looking at your mouth, and we see that there is a suspicious bump or spot in your mouth, we will do other tests. There are a couple of other tests we can do to determine whether or not you have oral cancer. First, we can have you rinse with a blue solution for a minute. We can then use a special light to shine in your mouth, and a cancer spot will show up. We can also use different lights to shine in your mouth to see if you have cancer as well.

Other diagnostic tools we can use to detect oral cancer include x-rays and biopsies. If you do have oral cancer, we would want to refer you to a specialist as soon as possible.

HPV and mouth cancer


Recent studies show a rapid rise in oral cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV).

Human papillomavirus (HPV), known to cause cervical cancer, can also infect the mouth and throat. These infections can go undetected and our immune systems often clear them before they cause health problems. However, the most prevalent types of oral HPV (HPV-16 and HPV-18) can cause cancer of the mouth and throat.

Symptoms


Symptoms of mouth or throat cancer may include any of the following:
•  Changes in your voice (hoarseness) or persistent sore throat
•  Sores, red patches or white patches on the lips or anywhere in the mouth
•  Earaches
•  Pain or difficulty when swallowing
•  Numbness of the tongue, mouth or back teeth
•  Enlarged lymph nodes (neck swelling)

Preventing mouth cancer


More than half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices:
•  Don't smoke
•  Avoid or limit alcohol
•  Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise
•  Limit sexual partners and practice safe sex

There is no FDA-approved test to screen for or to diagnose oral HPV. Current HPV vaccines were developed to prevent cervical cancers. It is not known if they might also help prevent mouth and throat cancer. Be sure to talk to your dentist or physician if you have any symptoms that could signal possible cancer of the mouth or throat. To learn more about oral HPV and mouth cancers, visit the Mouth Cancer Foundation or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are you worried that you have oral cancer? Do you have someone in your life that had oral cancer, and now you're worried? We can help. For Bellevue dental care that includes an oral cancer screening, call our Spektor Dental team at (425) 247-3629.

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