As with all cancers, oral cancer is easier to treat when detected in the earliest stages. This is a chance to start treatment before the cancer spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of your body.
Because early detection is so important, Dr. Hinna Chaudhry performs oral cancer screenings as part of our regular dental care here at Ardsley Dental Spa in Ardsley, New York.
Below, we answer a few common questions about oral cancer screenings, including how often you need them and what we look for during the screening.
How often do you need oral cancer screenings?
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, adults should receive an oral cancer screening at least once per year. That said, we screen for oral cancer during your routine dental exams, typically scheduled twice a year.
By staying on track with your regular dental exams, you benefit from two oral cancer screenings each year. This schedule is particularly important as oral cancer can start as small lesions, and regular cleanings allow Dr. Chaudhry to spot red flags as soon as possible.
You may benefit from more frequent screenings if you’re at greater risk of oral cancer. Risk factors include:
- Chewing tobacco or betel quid
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Excessive UV exposure on lips (such as a history of using tanning beds)
- Weakened immune system
- Personal history of oral cancer
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Being overweight
- Being 55 or older
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Being male
If you’re concerned about your oral cancer risks or spot the signs of oral cancer, you certainly don’t need to wait until your next screening to visit us. Call Dr. Chaudhry with any concerns.
Signs of oral cancer
Oral cancer includes any cancer in your oral cavity, including cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, and back of the throat. Symptoms vary depending on the cancer’s location, but the most common signs include:
- Sores or irritations in your mouth, on your lips, or in the back of your throat
- White or red patches that aren’t healing
- Feeling like you have a lump in your throat that won’t go away
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty or pain when moving your tongue and/or jaw
- Facial swelling
- Ear pain
It’s important to seek medical care if you experience any of these symptoms, but know that you don’t necessarily have oral cancer. These symptoms can have overlapping causes. Ear pain, for example, can result from an ear infection, and jaw pain can indicate TMJ disorder.
Whether you spot a potential sign of oral cancer or we uncover it during your oral cancer screening, a biopsy and further testing can help determine your next steps.
To learn more about oral cancer screenings or schedule your next dental checkup, call us at 914-348-9815. You can also book your visit through our online booking form.