Oral Cancer Screening in Houston, TX
At Best Dental we offer Free Oral Cancer Screenings every Wednesday of every week that our office is open.
Below is information on Oral Cancer to educate yourself.
Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in any part of the mouth (also known as the oral cavity). Oral cancers can occur on the:
- Gum Tissue
- Tongue (any and all sides)
- Inner Cheeks (buccal mucosa)
- Soft and Hard Palate
- Under the tongue
Cancer that occurs on the inside of the mouth is sometimes called mouth cancer.
Mouth cancer is one of several types of cancers grouped in a category called head and neck cancers. Mouth cancer and other head and neck cancers are often treated similarly.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of mouth cancer may include, but not limited to the following:
- Lip and mouth sores that don’t heal
- Patch on the inside of your mouth that’s red or white
- Loosening of teeth
- A growth inside of your oral cavity
- Mouth pain
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Difficulty moving the jaw
- Difficulty moving the tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth (including the lips)
- Jaw swelling
- Poor fitting dentures
- Loosening of the teeth
- Pain in the teeth or the jaw
- Voice changes
- A lump in the neck
- Weight loss
- Chronic bad breath
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your dentist or physician if you have any persistent signs and symptoms that bother you and last more than a few weeks. Your doctor will likely investigate other more common causes for your signs and symptoms first, such as a bacterial infection.
Causes of Oral Cancers
Mouth cancers form when the cells of the mouth develop changes (mutations) in their DNA (the brain of the cell). A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tells a cell what to do. The changes (or mutations) tell the cells to continue growing and dividing when healthy cells would normally die. The accumulating abnormal mouth cancer cells can form a tumor or an aggressive cancer. With time they may spread inside the mouth and on to other areas of the head and neck or other parts of the body (metastasis).
Risk factors of Oral Cancers
Factors that can increase your risk of Oral cancers include:
- Tobacco use of any kind: These including cigarette smoking, cigars smoking, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff, etc
- Heavy alcohol use (Liver Cancer is also significantly increased with alcohol consumption)
- Excessive sun exposure (may cause lip cancer)
- A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) -- May Also Cause Cervical Cancer
- A weakened immune system (AIDS, Kaposi Sarcoma, etc)
Prevention of Oral Cancer
There’s no proven way to prevent Oral Cancers. However, you can reduce your risk of Oral cancer if you follow these instructions:
- Stop using tobacco or don’t start. If you use tobacco, stop using it. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start. Using tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals that lead to cancer formation inside the mouth.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. Chronic excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in your mouth, making them susceptible to oral cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in sparingly and moderation.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips. Protect the skin on your lips from the sun by staying in the shade when possible. Wear a broad-brimmed hat that effectively shades your entire face, including your mouth. Apply a sunscreen lip product as part of your routine sun protection regimen.
- See your dentist for regular check ups. As part of a routine dental exam, ask your dentist to inspect your entire mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate oral cancer or precancerous changes.
Diagnosis of Oral Cancer
Tests and procedures used to diagnose mouth cancer include:
- Physical exam. Your physician or dentist will examine your lips and mouth to look for abnormalities areas of irritation, such as sores and white patches may need a biopsy.
- Removal of tissue or fluids for lab testing (biopsy). If a suspicious area inside the mouth or on the lips is found, your doctor or dentist may remove a portion or all of the tissue for laboratory testing in a procedure called a biopsy. The doctor might use a cutting tool to cut away a sample of tissue or use a needle to remove a sample. In the laboratory, the cells are analyzed for cancer or precancerous changes that indicate a risk of future cancer.
No matter what you need done, having the best Oral Cancer Screening in Houston is going to be extremely important. You want someone that you will like working with and someone that is going to provide the best possible care. You want someone who knows what they’re doing and you definitely want to make sure that you’re getting the advice you need to take care of yourself. Keeping your teeth and your whole oral cavity cancer free is extremely important, so make sure you have the help you’re going to need from your Houston Oral Cancer Screening Dentist every step of the way.
Treatment of Oral Cancer
After a diagnosis has been made by your clinicians, and the cancer has been staged, treatment may begin. Treatment of oral cancers ideally involves multiple disciplines, including but not limited to: surgeons, radiation oncologists, chemotherapy oncologists, dental practitioners, and nutritionists. The actual curative treatment modalities are usually surgery and radiation, with chemotherapy added to decrease the possibility of metastasis, to sensitize the malignant cells to radiation, or for those patients who have confirmed distant metastasis (spread) of the disease.
Before certain chemotherapeutic, and radiation treatments are administered, it is often crucial that the oral health of the patient is thoroughly evaluated. Any broken down teeth, and infected teeth should be removed, especially prior to radiation treatment in the oral cavity and jaw areas. This will prevent possible complications of radiation induced ostenecrosis (Osteoradionecrosis). Osteoradionecrosis is bone death due to radiation. The bone dies because radiation damages its blood vessels. Osteoradionecrosis is a rare side effect that develops some time after radiation therapy has ended. It usually occurs in the lower jaw, or mandible.
Since extracting teeth involves healing, if blood vessels are absent in the jaw due to radiation treatment, tooth removal sites may never heal properly leading to severe jaw infections that can spread rapidly, and even lead to death. We cannot stress how important it is to have a oral evaluation prior to oral cancer treatment.
Oral Cancer Pictures
Oral Cancer Stages
- Stage 1: The tumor is 2 centimeters (cm) or smaller, and the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 2: The tumor is between 2-4 cm, and cancer cells have not spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: The tumor is either larger than 4 cm and hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes, or is any size and has spread to one lymph node, but not to other parts of the body.
- Stage 4:Tumors are any size and the cancer cells have spread to nearby tissues, the lymph nodes, or other parts of the body.
Oral Cancer Survival Rates
According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rates for oral cavity and pharynx cancers are as follows:
- 83 Percent, for localized cancer (that has not spread)
- 64 Percent, for cancer that’s spread to nearby lymph nodes
- 38 percent, for cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body
As you can see early detection is the key to a successful recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) -- Oral Cancer Screening
- How often should I have an oral cancer exam? Head and neck exams should be performed by your dentist at least once a year. Most times, during your recall visits, your dentist will take a thorough look to make sure that no abnormalities are seen inside of your mouth.
- How soon should I see my dentist if I see something inside my mouth? The sooner the better. If it is a growth that requires immediate attention then it is wise to be seen by a clinician as soon as possible.
- How much does Best Dental charge for their oral cancer screenings? Our Houston office provides complimentary evaluations for head and neck cancer screenings throughout the calendar year.
- If I have mouth cancer, what should I do? Specialists in the fields of oral pathology, and oral and maxillofacial surgery work with our team so you can get the treatment that you need quickly and efficiently.
If you feel like something is not right inside your mouth, such as a lump or a growth, please contact our office to setup your oral cancer screening appointment today. For more information, you can also visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.