Oral Cancer Screening


Oral cancer is the largest group of head and neck cancers that affects over 40,000 Americans every year. It is a devastating disease and can be fatal if not found and treated early. The problem, however, is that the earliest symptoms of oral cancer are easily overlooked. As a result, it is often not detected until it has progressed and is more difficult to treat. Of those diagnosed with oral cancer, only just over half live past five years after their diagnosis. At Platte Valley Dental Care, we can help to detect the presence of oral cancer in its earliest stages with oral cancer screenings.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

There are several symptoms that can point toward oral cancer. However, many of the earliest symptoms are the most difficult to detect. We are trained in spotting these symptoms, which makes your regular dental exams very important. Knowing what to look for can help you detect symptoms between your regular exams as well, helping you to take action sooner. Common symptoms include:
•  Sores that do not want to heal, even after two weeks.
•  Unusual growths on your intraoral tissues.
•  Red or white patches.
•  Your bite has changed, or the fit of your dentures has changed.
•  You are finding it difficult to chew, swallow, and speak.
•  Your chin is numb.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are certain factors that can increase your risk. Some of these factors are controllable, while others are not. Factors that increase your likelihood of developing oral cancer include:
•  Using tobacco products and drinking alcohol. These habits can significantly increase your risk for oral cancer. 90% of oral cancer patients have used tobacco products while 70% to 80% of oral cancer patients have been heavy drinkers.
•  Certain strains of HPV. There are several strains of HPV or human papilloma virus. Just a few are linked to oral cancer, with HPV16 having the strongest connection.
•  Family history. If you have a close blood relative with oral cancer, your risk is higher.
•  Your age. The older you are, the greater your risk. Men also have a higher risk than women. Men over the age of 55 have the greatest risk.

The Detection and Diagnosis of Oral Cancer

As a part of your regular dental exams, we perform an oral cancer screening. During this screening, we look over your intraoral tissues, checking for any abnormalities. If we find anything unusual, we then refer you for a closer examination. During this exam, we again look over your intraoral tissues and take digital x-rays. We may also take a soft tissue biopsy.

A soft tissue biopsy is an effective diagnostic tool that can help us determine, or rule out, the presence of oral cancer. After we take the sample, we examine the tissue under a microscope. With a microscope, we can see cancerous and precancerous cells. If we find cancerous cells, we can then refer you for the treatment you need right away. Oral cancer screenings are performed at every regular dental exam. It is essential that you have your mouth cleaned and examined at least twice a year. For more information on oral cancer, and to schedule your next dental exam, call Platte Valley Dental Care today at (816) 858-2027.

Office Hours
Monday: 9 AM to 5 PM
Tuesday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Wednesday: 8 AM to 6 PM
Thursday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Friday: 8 AM to 2 PM
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