Oral Cancer Screenings in Est Side Chicago, IL 60617
Jun 06, 2023

What are the Five Signs of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is characterized by continuous growth or sores in the mouth, which pose a severe threat to life if not detected and treated early. In the U.S., approximately 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, and men make up 70% of these cases. The cancer can affect various parts of the mouth, including the tongue, lips, cheeks, sinuses, pharynx, hard and soft palate, and floor of the mouth. Although oral cancer can be effectively treated if caught early, most people receive a diagnosis when the cancer is already in its advanced stages, making treatment more challenging. By attending regular check-ups with a dentist near you and learning to identify suspicious changes in the mouth, individuals can increase their chances of early detection and successful treatment.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

The common symptoms of oral cancer include:
  • Oral cancer can also present as red, velvety white, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth, persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that don’t heal within two weeks, and unexplained numbness, pain, or tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the back of the throat
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or a change in voice
  • Ear pain
  • Swelling or pain in the jaw
  • Uncomfortable dentures or difficulty fitting them in, and changes in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Rapid weight loss can also be a symptom of oral cancer
If any of these symptoms are present, individuals should immediately seek medical attention from a dentist in 60617.

How Healthcare Providers Diagnose Oral Cancer

During oral cancer screening near you, healthcare providers typically follow these steps:
  • Physical examination: The healthcare provider will examine the inside of the mouth and surrounding areas, including the head, face, and neck, to look for signs of pre-cancer or cancer.
  • Brush biopsy: A small brush or spatula is used to scrape the affected area to obtain cells for examination gently.
  • Incisional biopsy: Small pieces of tissue are removed to get cells to be examined for oral cancer.
  • Indirect pharyngoscopy and laryngoscopy: A small mirror on a long thin handle is used to examine the base of the tongue, the throat, and part of the larynx.
  • Direct (flexible) pharyngoscopy and laryngoscopy: An endoscope, a thin, flexible tube with a viewing lens and an attached light, is used to look at areas of the throat and mouth that can’t be seen with mirrors.

How do Dental Professionals Treat Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can be treated through surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It is best to discuss the purpose, potential side effects, and management of side effects for each option with your doctor. The dentist near you will consider several factors before recommending a specific treatment. These include the type and stage of oral cancer, whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body, your general health, and your age.

Surgeries that Treat Oral Cancer

The following surgeries are commonly used to treat oral cancer:
  • Primary tumor surgery is removing tumors through the mouth or an incision in the neck.
  • Glossectomy: The partial or complete removal of the tongue.
  • Mandibulectomy: Surgery for oral cancer in the jawbone.
  • Maxillectomy: The removal of the hard palate, which is the bony roof of the mouth.
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy: A test to determine if cancer has spread beyond the original site.
  • Reconstruction: Following the removal of large areas of tissue, reconstructive surgery may be done to fill gaps left by the tumor or to replace parts of the lips, tongue, palate, or jaw. In some cases, healthy bone and tissue from other areas of the body may be used for reconstructive surgery.

How can Oral Cancer be Prevented?

You can take steps to prevent oral cancer by:
  • Quit smoking, using tobacco, or water pipes. Ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs to help you quit.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Wear sunscreen and use UV-AB-blocking sunblock on your face.
  • Get vaccinated for human papillomavirus.
  • Follow a balanced and healthy diet.
Schedule regular dental check-ups with our dentist at Family Dental Care in Chicago. If you’re between 20 and 40 years old, get screened for oral cancer every three years. After age 40, get annual exams.

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