Oral cancer begins with an asymptomatic, painless phase during which the usual cancer signs may not be readily noticeable. The good news is that oral cancer can be diagnosed with an annual oral cancer exam, part of your routine dental examination, and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages. Most commonly, oral cancer originates in lip and mouth tissues, making the oral cancer exam performed by your dentist critically important.
There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:
- Salivary Glands
- Oropharyngeal Region (throat)
Reasons for oral cancer examinations
It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. Your dentist can provide guidance with making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking.
Any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, mouth or surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as quickly as possible.
The oral cancer examination is a completely painless process. During the visual part of the examination, the dentist will look for abnormality and feel the face, glands and neck for unusual bumps.