Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is a potentially malignant disease with high mortality rates. It is often diagnosed in advanced stages.

Screening in oral cancer aims to detect lesions at an early stage. Routine visual examination of accessible oral structures is the current standard screening method. 강남임플란트

Symptoms

In addition to self-exams, people should have routine dental exams and screenings twice a year. Healthcare professionals can feel for lumps or tissue changes, and a simple tool called a VELscope shines fluorescent light that can help detect cancer cells, which are a darker color than healthy tissues.

During an oral cancer screening, your doctor will examine the inside of your mouth, including your lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, and the roof and floor of your mouth. They may also feel around your neck, under your chin, and on the sides of your face for signs of cancer.

If they find a suspicious area, your doctor will do further tests to determine whether the growth is cancerous and if it has spread. These tests may include a biopsy, imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan, and blood tests. If you have advanced cancer, your treatment may focus on controlling symptoms rather than curing the disease.

Diagnosis

If an abnormal lump or sore is found, a doctor or dentist will examine the area and may recommend further testing. Diagnostic tests can help find out whether the cells are cancerous and how fast they’re growing.

Most oral cancers grow in squamous cells, which line the top and sides of your mouth. Precancerous cells may look like a white plaque or an ulcer. They’re usually linked to tobacco and heavy alcohol use. They can also develop as a result of a viral infection.

Your NYU Langone doctor may rinse your mouth with a blue dye and shine a light in your mouth to help detect abnormal tissue. The dye makes healthy tissue appear dark and can highlight changes that may indicate a cancerous growth. Your doctor may also perform exfoliative cytology to collect cell samples with a brush, piece of cotton or wooden stick and test them in the lab for signs of cancer.

Treatment

Detection of oral cancer and precancerous conditions in their early stages greatly improves the chances for successful treatment and survival. However, screening can also find some cancers that never cause symptoms or become life-threatening, which is called overdiagnosis.

Healthcare professionals examine your mouth, including the lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth, and the hard palate (the front two thirds of the upper jaw) for signs of pre-cancer or cancer. They may also use a tool to scrape cells from the area in question and send them to a laboratory for testing.

If a cancerous or precancerous condition is found, you may be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a doctor who specializes in head and neck diseases. Depending on the type and stage of cancer, you might benefit from surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Early detection and treatment can preserve your ability to speak, eat and chew normally and avoid complications such as a hoarse or dry mouth.

Prevention

People can prevent or at least detect oral cancer early by examining their mouths, tongues and gums in a mirror on a regular basis. If they notice sores, lumps or white patches that do not go away for more than two weeks, they should speak with their doctors. People can also be screened for oral cancer by their dentists or doctors who are familiar with the symptoms and signs of this disease.

A healthcare professional can look for abnormalities by swabbing the inside of the cheek or the floor of the mouth with a cotton swab, piece of gauze or wooden stick, and then checking under a microscope for any cell changes that could indicate cancer. Using fluorescent dyes — such as toluidine blue, which makes healthy tissue appear dark and abnormal tissue appear white — is another way that doctors can find possible lesions.

People can lower their risk of oral cancer by not smoking or consuming alcohol, getting a HPV vaccination and maintaining a healthy diet. Symptoms of oral cancer are usually quite easy to spot, and it is much easier to treat early on when the disease is small.