You can get an annual oral cancer screening at your local periodontist’s office. Read on to learn what this kind of screening can do and what are its limitations.
Benefits & Limitations Of Oral Cancer Screenings
Many get screened for oral cancer at the same time as getting a dental checkup at their periodontist’s office. This is highly convenient for regular screenings, but if you are checking up on potential symptoms you’ve discovered, a separate screening appointment could be in order.
Essentially, a trained periodontist will ask you pertinent questions about any symptoms you may be experiencing, examine your mouth with his/her hand (while wearing gloves), and feel both inside and outside of your mouth to get a further “read” on any lumps or other abnormalities.
If you wear dentures, you’ll need to remove them before the screening so the tissue below can be properly examined.
Some periodontists may use a special light that makes healthy tissue in your mouth look darker while making unhealthy tissue stand out. Or, a blue dye mouth rinse may be used to help detect all abnormal tissue areas.
The benefit of an oral cancer screening is that it can lead to early detection, which can save lives. But the screening itself cannot save lives, and your dentist or periodontist cannot treat oral cancer, but only help detect it.
Additionally, it is always possible that a very small bit of abnormal tissue or certain specific kinds of cancerous or precancerous tissue could go undetected in a screening. And the mere examination and feeling of mouth sores and lumps cannot prove if they are cancerous or not.
What Will Happen If Tissue Is Suspected To Be Cancerous?
Your periodontist will have experience in discerning what likely may be cancerous or precancerous by sight and feel, but if such tissue is found in your mouth, he/she will perform a biopsy of the suspect tissue to come to a more solid diagnosis.
And if the biopsy doesn’t come out clearly negative, then you may be referred to a doctor specializing in oral cancer diagnosis and treatment for further examination and testing.
In less alarming cases, however, you may simply be asked to come back to see your periodontist for a follow up visit after a period of time.
Most people have sores and abnormalities of some sort in their mouth. The large majority of these are benign. And even many sores that at first raise red flags turn out to be false alarms. Sores that go away in only a few weeks are almost certainly not cancerous, so a wait period before reexamination is sometimes in order, after an oral cancer screening.
If you have never been screened for oral cancer, or if you feel it’s time to be screened again, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, to set up a screening appointment.