Oral cancer can be a deadly and disfiguring form of cancer and periodic screening for oral cancer should be undertaken, as a regular part of every routine dental visit. This is especially true if the patient has a history of tobacco use, including both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco. As with all cancers, the early detection of the disease, as well as the aggressive treatment of the cancer is critical to the long-term survival of the patient. There is fast, effective and economical test that is completed within minutes and gives immediate results.
One of the available tests involves placing a liquid in the patient’s mouth with the patient “swishing” it around inside of their mouth for several minutes. The liquid, which has no real taste, is then spit out and the dentist will use a special light to look inside of the patient’s mouth. Any abnormal areas on the inside of the mouth, tongue or gums will show up under the light, as the liquid acts as a “dye” to highlight the abnormal area. While the dentist also performs a normal visual inspection of the entire mouth as well, the test allows the dentist to identify areas of concern, before they would ever be visible to the naked eye. Any abnormal areas are documented and the patient is then referred to a specialist for determination of the abnormality, biopsy and aggressive treatment options if necessary.
Oral cancer screening should be a routine part of every dentist visit. It is a quick, highly effective and economical method to identify oral cancer early so that appropriate steps can be taken.
Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry
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