Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening is a precautionary measure that can give you peace of mind. The goal of an oral cancer screening is to diagnose mouth cancer early when there is a much better chance for a cure. At Crown Hill Smiles, we typically perform an oral cancer screening during your routine checkup. We may suggest a screening in response to lifestyle choices or if you are at greater risk for oral cancer. A screening is typically broken down into two parts: a visual and physical exam.
During the physical exam, Drs. Walker and O'Connor will take a look at your face, lips, neck, oral cavity, and nasal cavity. Before the screening, we will ask you to take out any removable dental appliances. This will help us get a better look at all the areas of your mouth. The goal is to visually identify any swellings, bumps, abnormalities, discolorations, and ulcerations. We typically use a mirror and light to better illuminate the hard-to-see spaces of your mouth and nose. In some cases, we will use a tongue depressor to look at the back of the mouth. The whole process is similar to your average physical. We may also use other tools to help us evaluate your gum tissues, plate, cheeks, throat, and tongue.
After your visual exam, we will physically check the areas around the jaw, under the chin, and in the oral cavity to feel if there are any unusual nodules or masses. During this time, you will be asked if any physical contact causes discomfort or pain. We may also ask you to swallow while the throat is being examined. Again, we may use specialized examining tools to complete the physical portion of the exam. This may include an Oral CDx, which is a brush that painlessly removes cells for testing.
Risk Factors For Oral Cancer
People who are at a higher risk for oral cancer will benefit most from screening. Factors that increase your risk of oral cancer include:
||Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, pipes, chewing tobacco, and cigars
||Heavy alcohol use
||Significant exposure to the sun (lip cancer)
||A previous bout with oral cancer
After Your Oral Cancer Screening
After your screening is over, and there are no abnormalities, we will complete the rest of your routine checkup. If we notice any abnormalities, we may recommend a follow-up appointment to note whether or not it has grown or changed over time. We may also recommend a biopsy procedure so we can test the cells to determine if cancer is present.
It is important to remember that an oral cancer screening is a precautionary measure. It is also a great opportunity for you to talk with Drs. Walker and O'Connor about any fear or concerns you may have. Some patients find it helpful to bring a list of questions. We can help you reduce your risk factors through patient education!
Schedule Your Appointment Now!
If you would like to learn more or put your mind at ease, call (206) 204-9623 to schedule your appointment now!