Why Oral Cancer Screening is necessary?

The goal of oral cancer screening is to detect mouth cancer or precancerous lesions that may lead to mouth cancer at an early stage — when cancer or lesions are easiest to remove and most likely to be cured.

Education of the public regarding the risk factors which lead to oral cancer, and the development of public awareness, are primary responsibilities of the dental community.

It is important that both private individuals, and members of the dental community, realize that a visit to the dentist is no longer about a filling, a crown, or a postponable cleaning, but is actually a matter of life and death. Dental examinations, when properly done and which include a screening for oral cancer, will save lives.

Published studies that currently less than 15% of those who visit a dentist regularly report having had an oral cancer screening.

What you can expect during the exam?

During an oral cancer screening exam, your dentist looks over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, your dentist also feels the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities.

If you wear complete or partial dentures that are removable, your dentist or doctor will ask you to remove them so that the tissue underneath can be examined.

Additional tests for oral cancer screening

Some dentists use special tests in addition to the oral exam to screen for oral cancer. Special oral cancer screening tests may involve using a special device that uses a special light during the exam. The light makes healthy tissue appear dark and makes abnormal tissue appear white.

Results

If your dentist discovers any signs of mouth cancer or precancerous lesions, he or she may recommend:

  • A follow-up visit in a few weeks to see if the abnormal area is still present and note whether it has grown or changed over time.
  • A biopsy procedure to remove a sample of cells for laboratory testing to determine whether cancer cells are present. Your dentist may perform the biopsy, or you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in oral cancer diagnosis and treatment.