Protocols are set in place to detect certain cancers in people who are susceptible to them. For instance, above a certain age, men are required to get colonoscopies to detect colon cancer. As for women, cervical cancer screening is done regularly. Oral cancer is another disease where we have screening protocols.
Fortunately, screening done for oral cancer is mostly non-invasive and you won’t need to undergo any serious procedure. We screen you for oral cancer here at OASIS Modern Dentistry and Orthodontics in Houston at each regular visit. It’s part of the examination.
Oral cancer is silent at the start, hence the need for screenings. If left undiagnosed and untreated, however, it’ll start creating symptoms as it grows. So, what are the symptoms you should look out for that might mean you have cancer?
Feeling numbness or pain in your oral cavity or lips can be worrying especially if it’s increasing. Another finding is the presence of red or white discoloration on your gums, lips, or tongue. These patches of discoloration could be pre-cancerous lesions.
If you’ve noticed that your voice changed or you’re having difficulty swallowing, you need to get checked out. Of course, the presence of these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean you have cancer. They’re just worrying and it’s always better to get them checked out.
The consensus right now is that it’s much better to prevent and avoid cancer than to wait for it to happen then treat it. Prevention is better for the patient and saves them the hazards and financial burdens that come with treatment.
Cutting back on smoking and drinking alcohol is vital to preventing oral cancer. An added benefit here is that cutting back on tobacco and alcohol also lowers your risk of liver disease, lung disease, and other types of cancers.
You should also get vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. Human Papilloma Virus is a risk factor for the development of oral and cervical cancer. Luckily, with the development of a vaccine, you can lower your risk of getting them through vaccination against HPV.