Oral cancer screenings … What’s involved and how they just may save your life!

In a given year, around 4,000 of our fellow Californians will be diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancer of the mouth and throat. Of these, the state reports that 23% (973) will succumb to the disease. As scary as that may sound, with cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, there are many opportunities to not only stop disease progression but also to prevent it in the first place! It is truly our great privilege at Dental Oasis of Orange County to conduct exams that “save” smiles and potentially save the lives of our friends from throughout the Huntington Beach area of southern California. 

The importance of screening

Not unlike other types of cancers, the 5-year survival rates are significantly better when oropharyngeal cancers are treated before they have spread. As the cancer metastasizes and spreads to lymph nodes and distant organs, survival rates drop dramatically – from 84% to 66% and 39%, respectively.  

Prevention is fundamental to our approach to all conditions, including (or especially!) pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions. After all, as experts in oral anatomy and function, dental professionals are frequently the first to sound the alarm that something is wrong in your mouth. It may be easy to initially overlook some of the below symptoms as nothing more than innocuous changes:

  • Frequent or persistent sores 
  • White or red discoloration 
  • Thick or swollen tissues
  • Lumps and bumps 

Now, we can see or feel for many of these potential problems by touch. What cannot be seen or palpated may be detected with our use of advanced diagnostic technologies. Depending on what we find, a small tissue sample may need to be analyzed under the microscope to rule out other conditions and for accurate diagnoses.

What to expect 

Consistent periodic visits to our office in Huntington Beach, California, are a vital piece of the prevention puzzle. For individuals who are not at increased risk of developing these or other oral conditions, the bi-annual visit is “standard.” We always check for anything strange or any changes since your last 6-month visit. However, a full screening is also performed at least annually. You may not fit the standard mold and may require more frequent visits if you have risk factors like smoking and the use of tobacco products. These are “modifiable” behaviors. We work with our patients to support healthy habits and to minimize or eliminate their risk of cancer and other life-changing conditions. 

Frequent hoarseness? Sore throats? Earaches? Problems swallowing? These changes, too, can be trouble signs for cancers. Do not wait to be alarmed by a newfound ailment, sore, or bump. Call us without delay at (714) 312-7714 to schedule your appointment with our kind and talented team at Dental Oasis of Orange County. For your convenience, you may also contact us from this website.