Many patients assume oral cancer only affects people who use tobacco products, but even those who engage in none of the high risk behaviors associated with oral cancer are at risk for developing the disease that claims approximately one life every hour in the US. In fact, oral cancer leads to more annual deaths than cervical or skin cancers. According to research conducted by the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 50% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will not live five years past that point. The best way to reduce the number of annual deaths attributed to oral cancer is to diagnose and treat this disease in its earliest stages. Dr. Merrill A. Grant and his team perform oral cancer screenings as part of every dental checkup. In most cases of oral cancer, the subtle warning signs go unnoticed by patients, making regular screenings even more important. Between visits, patients should note any of the following symptoms of oral cancer and let our team know about them during their next visit:
- An oral sore that doesn’t heal for a week or more
- A change in the color or texture of oral tissues
- Lumps, rough spots, or crusted tissues in the mouth
- Pain or discomfort
- Sore throat, difficulty swallowing, or hoarse voice
Our Satellite Beach, FL dental team carefully examines the entire mouth, lips, cheeks, head, and neck during dental checkups. We look for any of the common indicators of oral cancer, and we can compare your previous oral health conditions to ensure the earliest diagnosis of developing oral cancer. If we find signs of oral cancer, we will recommend a brush or scalpel biopsy.
The brush biopsy is a quick, painless test that is often recommended for areas of soft tissue that may be developing differently. A scalpel biopsy requires local anesthesia and is used to remove samples of suspicious areas. These samples are sent to a lab where they can be tested for oral cancers.
For more information about oral cancer, support groups, or treatments, visit www.oralcancerfoundation.org.