Oral Cancer Screenings

Oral Cancer Screenings

smile-large2Why should I check for Oral Cancer?

Cancer does not discriminate. It can attack the mouth just like any other organ of the body. It can cause a multitude of problems and can result in death. It is the sixteenth major cause of cancer on a worldwide basis. Fortunately, it is also one of the causes with the highest survival rate, up to 63%.

While there is considerable debate in the scientific community as to whether such an examination really makes a difference, it can save your life if any problems are detected at an early stage. Dentists like Dr. Mark Samuels perform an oral cancer examination during a routine visit. He is looking for any lesions or other signs of oral cancer.

Do I belong in a high-risk group for oral cancer?

If you …

Use tobacco in any way (smoking, chewing or snuffing)

Are a heavy alcohol drinker

Expose yourself to the sun too much (which increases the risk of lip cancer)

Have already had a previous oral cancer diagnosis

Are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV)

Have very unhealthy dietary habits

… then your risk of developing or re-developing oral cancer is significantly higher and you will need to check with your dentist about whether regular oral cancer screening would be good in your case. Interestingly, men have a greater susceptibility to oral cancer than women, and the risk increases significantly for either men or women over the age of 50.

When should I get worried?

Oral cancer tumors are, most times, painless initially, but they can produce other problems like difficulty in moving your tongue around and swallowing. As the condition progresses, there may be pain or a burning sensation behind the wisdom teeth area  or behind the ears. Lumps, lesions or sores may appear that don’t go away after a couple of weeks.

What is the oral cancer screening process?

In an oral cancer screening, dentists like Dr. Samuels first look for patches (red or white) or sores inside the mouth. Then they feel the mouth tissues with their fingers to uncover any lumps or abnormalities. For this examination, you will be asked to remove any dentures.

If any of the above is discovered during the screening, then you will need to schedule follow-up visits to determine if the abnormalities resolve or remain over time. If they remain, then other tests and procedures will be needed to confirm a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the follow-up tests and procedures?

dental-examShould Dr. Samuels  find signs of oral cancer, then he may choose to proceed to further tests, such as:

Using a blue dye to rinse your mouth. In many cases the abnormal cells attract the dye and they appear blue.

Using a diagnostic light to pinpoint the abnormalities. Normal tissue appears dark while the suspect tissue appears white.

For those cases where there is an amount of certainty that the tissues have developed oral cancer, then a biopsy may be in order. If this is the case then a small amount of the tissue is extracted and tested in specialized labs (biopsy).

What happens if I am diagnosed with oral cancer?

First of all, don’t have to panic. If it is diagnosed in the early stages then the treatment is relatively simple. Surgical intervention will be needed to remove the tumor, lesion or other affected tissues. Experienced dentists like Dr. Mark Samuels can perform this kind of treatment in his office.

Unfortunately, if the oral cancer is at a more advanced stage, the situation is a bit more complicated. In addition to more serious surgical interventions, there may be a need for additional radiation or chemo therapies, especially if the nature of the oral cancer has made it difficult for surgical access. It is also possible that after the main therapy to remove the cancerous tissues, additional procedures like plastic surgeries may be required to restore the functionality. These types of treatments will be costly and require hospitalization.

Getting a cancer screening can save your life. You can’t really do self-examinations for oral cancer like you can for breast cancer. You need a professional, experienced dentist who knows whether what he sees could possibly be cancer or not.  Call Dr. Mark Samuels’ office at (203) 742-1027 to setup an appointment for an oral cancer screening.

Office Hours

Monday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Tuesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Thursday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday: 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm

Our Location

Lighthouse Dental Care

88 Ryders Lane
Stratford, CT 06614

Phone: (203) 742-1027
Fax: (203) 380-8390