A General Dentist Talks Oral Cancer

general dentist Trophy Club, TX

Oral cancer is one of those things your general dentist might look for during a routine checkup. Any cancer that develops in the gums, lips, tongue, cheek lining, mouth floor and the roof of the mouth is classified as oral cancer. It falls under the cancer group called head and neck cancer. Symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Loose teeth
  • A sore on the mouth or lips that refuses to heal
  • A lump or growth inside the mouth
  • A reddish or white patch in a person's mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Mouth pain
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing

Anyone who notices the symptoms listed above for longer than two weeks should head to a dentist immediately for an oral cancer screen. Oral cancer can be easily treated in its early stages, but it becomes life-threatening as it progresses.

A general dentist educates patients about oral cancer

Cancers form in the mouth when abnormal cells develop on the lips or mouth, altering their DNA. Think of DNA as a set of instructions for cells. The mutation leads to the cells getting wrong information to cells to continue to grow and divide instead of dying when due. Over time, the cancer can spread from the mouth to other parts of the head and neck. Most oral cancers develop as thin, flat cells that line the lips and inside of the mouth. Factors that can make a person more vulnerable to oral cancer include:

  • Using tobacco products like chewing tobacco and cigarettes
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight, especially the lips
  • Sexually transmitted viruses like human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • A compromised immune system

Diagnosing oral cancer

A general dentist might decide to diagnose oral cancer by performing procedures and tests like:

  • Physical examination: The dentist will examine the patient's lips and mouth looking for abnormalities like sores, white patches and areas with irritation
  • Biopsy: If the dentist locates a suspicious area during their examination. A tissue sample might be removed from it. The sample is sent to a lab where it is analyzed for pre-cancer and cancer cells

Once cancer has been detected in a patient's mouth, more tests are conducted to determine its severity. These include:

  • An endoscopy: This involves using a small camera to inspect the patient's throat. The camera is equipped with a light and it is flexible enough to navigate through the throat
  • Imaging tests: Tests like x-rays, MRIs, CT scans and PET scans

The different stages of oral cancer are denoted using roman numerals I to IV. A lower number indicates the cancer cells are confined to one region, while a higher number indicates the cancer has spread to other areas of the neck and head. How far a patient's cancer has progressed often determines how the doctor goes about treating it.

Treating oral cancer

Treatment options for oral cancer include:

  • Surgery: This involves surgically extracting cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy: During this treatment, radiation is used to kill cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy: This uses medication to target cancerous cells
  • Immunotherapy: This involves using the patient's immune system against cancer cells

We are here to help

Call or visit our Trophy Club clinic to set up an oral cancer screening. Early detection makes a huge difference when it comes to treating oral cancer.

Request an appointment here: https://trophysmilestudio.com or call Trophy Smile Studio at (817) 210-4049 for an appointment in our Trophy Club office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.

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