Oftentimes, cancer begins so subtly that its symptoms don’t become obvious until it has advanced to the point where it is extremely difficult to treat. That is why doctors so strongly encourage patients to regularly get checked for signs of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other forms of this devastating disease. Oral cancer is no exception to the rule. Regularly visiting Dr. Bryce in Potomac Falls for oral cancer screenings could be the key to early detection, and thus a key to survival. Now is the perfect time to talk about why screening is so important and how you can recognize signs of this serious condition.
Everyone Is at Risk
Millions of people have one or more of the risk factors for oral cancer. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption often contribute to this disease, but so do prolonged sun exposure, a poor diet, and a compromised immune system. One particularly worrisome risk factor is the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which have been directly linked to oral cancer. HPV is extremely common, and most people are not even aware that they have it because it doesn’t always present obvious symptoms.
Even if you believe you are free of any of the risk factors for oral cancer, it would still be wise for you to get screened at least once a year. Really, anyone, regardless of their age or lifestyle, might develop this disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Some common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Odd lumps or swelling in or around the mouth
- A persistent sore throat
- The sensation that something is stuck in the throat
- Unexplained weight loss or changes to the voice
- Patches of discolored tissue in or around the mouth
- Loose teeth or bite changes that have no apparent dental cause
In some cases, the signs and symptoms of oral cancer are so subtle that you might not be able to recognize them on your own. A trained professional is the best person to help you catch the cancer while it is still in its early stages.
The Oral Cancer Screening Process
There is no reason to hold back from getting an oral cancer screening. The process is simple, fast, and painless. As part of your regular dental checkup, your dentist or hygienist will perform a visual and tactile examination of your mouth and the surrounding areas. They might also ask you a few questions to determine whether you’ve been experiencing any potential symptoms of oral cancer. If they identify any cause for concern, they’ll help you arrange for further testing.
Is it time for you to get your next oral cancer screening? Request an appointment with your dentist so you can undergo this quick and potentially lifesaving exam!
About the Author
Dr. Robert Bryce earned his dental degree over 30 years ago. He is happy to provide a wide range of services to his patients, including routine checkups and oral cancer screenings. If you would like to get screened for oral cancer or you have other concerns about your oral health, contact our team at 571-434-8000 today.