Oral cancer, a subtype of head and neck cancer, is an alarming global health concern. Often, it remains unnoticed until it has advanced to severe stages. This makes early detection through oral cancer screening paramount. This article elucidates the top seven reasons why prioritizing oral cancer screening is crucial.
What Is Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening is a quick and painless examination of the mouth to detect any signs of cancerous or precancerous cells. The screening involves a visual examination of the mouth and throat, as well as palpation of the neck and jaw to check for any lumps or abnormalities. It is recommended for individuals who have a history of tobacco or alcohol use, as well as those with a family history of oral cancers.
1. Early Detection Saves Lives
One of the most significant reasons for prioritizing oral cancer screening is that early detection can save lives. When detected at an early stage, oral cancer has a 90% survival rate. However, when detected at a later stage, the survival rate drops to just 39%. By getting regular oral cancer screenings, you can catch any abnormalities early and increase your chances of successful treatment.
2. Early Detection Is Less Invasive
When oral cancer is detected at an early stage, treatment options are generally less invasive and have fewer side effects. This is because the cancer cells are confined to a smaller area, making it easier to remove. In contrast, late-stage oral cancer may require more intensive treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, which can have significant physical and emotional impacts on the patient.
3. Preventive Measures Can Be Taken
Oral cancer screening can also help identify precancerous lesions or cells, allowing for preventive measures to be taken. These measures may include lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or reducing alcohol consumption, or more invasive interventions, such as surgery to remove the precancerous cells before they become cancerous.
4. Oral Cancer Is Increasingly Common
Oral cancer is becoming more prevalent worldwide, with an estimated 53,000 new cases in the United States alone in 2020. This increase may be due to factors such as lifestyle changes, increased tobacco and alcohol use, and exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). With the rising incidence of oral cancer, it is more important than ever to prioritize oral cancer screening.
5. Oral Cancer Can Be Asymptomatic
One of the most concerning aspects of oral cancer is that it can be asymptomatic, meaning there may be no visible signs or symptoms until the cancer has progressed to a more advanced stage. This makes regular oral cancer screenings even more critical, as they can detect any abnormalities that may be missed during routine dental visits.
6. Oral Cancer Can Affect Anyone
Contrary to popular belief, oral cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle choices. While tobacco and alcohol use are significant risk factors, there has been an increase in oral cancer cases among young, non-smoking individuals due to the HPV virus. Therefore, everyone should prioritize oral cancer screening, regardless of their perceived risk factors.
7. Oral Cancer Can Be Detected Outside of the Mouth
While most oral cancers occur on the tongue, tonsils, and gums, they can also occur in other areas of the head and neck, such as the sinuses, salivary glands, and throat. Oral cancer screening can detect abnormalities in these areas as well, increasing the chances of early detection and successful treatment.
Oral cancer screening is a crucial preventive measure that everyone should prioritize. By detecting any signs of oral cancer or precancerous cells early, you can increase your chances of successful treatment and reduce the physical and emotional impact of more invasive treatments. With the rising incidence of oral cancer worldwide, it is more important than ever to make oral cancer screening a regular part of your healthcare routine.
If you are looking for a reliable and experienced dental practice to perform your oral cancer screening, the Northampton Dental Specialists Group (previously known as Clayton and Canby Dental) is an excellent choice. With over 25 years of experience, the practice has built a reputation for providing high-quality dental care in a comfortable and welcoming environment. Don’t wait until it’s too late—prioritize your health and get screened for oral cancer today. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!