Oral cancer screening is a good way of detecting early signs of mouth cancer. It involves various tests which help in identifying areas of abnormal cells in a patient`s mouth. A dentist or doctor usually performs this test during a routine dental visit. It helps in identifying the signs of cancer before it spreads to other
parts thereby increasing the chances for cure and recovery.
Even so, studies are yet to find prove if oral cancer screening can reduce the risk of dying from oral cancer. However, the testing can be helpful to individuals who are at high danger of developing the disease. Persons who are at high risk of contracting oral cancer include:
- Those who indulge in heavy drinking.
- Those who have been previously diagnosed with cancer.
- Those who are using tobacco and other related stuff like cigarettes and snuff.
- Those who have a history of significant sunlight exposure which tends to increase the risk of lip cancer.
How are Oral cancer screenings is done?
Just like in a normal check-up, no special preparation is required during an oral cancer test. The most common methods of detecting mouth cancers are visual examinations and cytology tests, in which cells from suspected parts are cultured and tested in the lab. However, the visual inspection technique is commonly used. During this test, the patient exam positioning may vary. In most cases, dental patients lie on their backs as their dentists examine their oral cavities. In other situations, the patient can sit up in an upright posture facing the dentist during the exam. The patient is also asked to remove all dental appliances in the mouth before the test begins.
During visual examination test, the doctor makes a systematic inspection of all the soft tissues of the mouth, including the tongue, the floor of the mouth, the margin extension of the tongue and even the lymph node regions of the oral cavity and the neck area. Many times, diagnostic aids such as light sources and dyes can be used during oral inspection to allow clear examination of vital issues. When examining mucosal surfaces, the dentist may use an air syringe or a gauze to dry the surfaces gently, so that it is easier to observe color and texture changes.
The doctor may look for symptoms such as abnormal white patches (leukoplakia) and abnormal red patches of cells (erythroplakia) on the oral mucosa. These spots are detected through palpation of fixated and indurated masses within the issues. If suspect symptoms are identified, the doctor may conduct further tests such as biopsy or cytology tests to determine if the tissues are indeed infected by cancer. An oral biopsy is usually simple, painless and gives accurate results. If the patient is diagnosed with oral cancer, the doctor may recommend immediate treatment.
What are the risks of Oral cancer screenings?
Here are some limitations of oral exams:
- Oral cancer screening cannot detect all forms of mouth cancer. Obviously, it is not easy to identify all areas of precancerous cells just by looking at a patient`s mouth. Some precancerous parts may go unnoticed.
- Oral cancer testing may lead to additional tests to confirm if the cancer cells are present.
- The tests have not been proved to save lives from oral cancer although it may help to detect the disease early when cure is very likely.
Misdiagnosis may also occur. Normally, a biopsy is used as a confirmatory test for mouth cancer. In a biopsy test, cells and tissues are obtained from the lips of oral cavity and examined under a microscope in the lab by an oncologist to check for signs of cancer. If the cells are cancerous and the doctor reports there is no cancer, the cancer is misdiagnosed. Conversely, if the cells are cancerous and the doctor reports there is cancer, the cancer is misdiagnosed. If cancer is misdiagnosed, treatment may be given that is not needed or treatment that is needed may not be given.
The most important step in stopping early deaths from oral cancer is through early screening. It is important to visit a dentist for routine oral cancer screening to detect the disease early when there is a greater chance for treatment. Physicians and dentists both must do a better job of screening and examining their patients for oral cancer symptoms.