by Dr. O. Karnakova
Here at Dr. Zak’s, an oral cancer screening is part of our comprehensive examination with every patient. A visual screening is performed of the oral cavity in areas such as the tongue, floor of the mouth, buccal mucosa, throat, and including areas outside the mouth. A palpation of the head and neck is also conducted to check for any irregularities in the lymph nodes or skin. The risk of cancer has a positive correlation between ethnicity, gender, and age. Patients who are alcoholics or tobacco users are at especially high risk for oral cancer.
If any suspicious lesions are detected, the patient will be referred to a specialist. The oral surgeon will conduct a biopsy to determine if the tissues are malignant. If the results return positive for cancer, the patient will have to undergo treatment as soon as possible. Depending on the type of cancer, stage, and location, different treatment options are available such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, cetuximab, or a combination between them. Typically, cancer that has not spread or invaded the deeper layers of tissue can be treated with minimally invasive surgery. If the cancer is left untreated or undiagnosed, it may metastasize to the surrounding lymph nodes in the head and neck or other parts of the body. As the cancer becomes larger or spreads, the type of treatment becomes much more aggressive, and the survival rate dramatically decreases.
The beginning stages of oral cancer is often asymptomatic and can be mistaken with other types of common problems such as ulcers, soreness of the jaw, or weight loss. It is important to visit your dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender. Early detection increases the survival rate while minimizing the invasiveness of treatment. Having cancer diagnosed as early as possible will help ensure the treatment is as effective as possible.