Oral Cancer Exams by Board Certified Prosthodontist Steven Rhodes, DDS
Steve Rhodes is board certified on a national level and offers exceptional service and procedures that you just can't find at a general dentist's office! Below is an overview of the oral cancer exam we offer at our local Las Vegas office.
What is oral cancer and where does it originate?
The American Cancer Society has found through their research that there are more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer diagnosed every year, with more than 7,000 resulting in death. We provide an annual oral cancer exam in order to easily diagnose oral cancer and treat it effectively by catching it in its early stages.
At first, cancer signs may not be apparently noticeable, which is what makes oral cancer exams so important. The most common type of oral cancer originated in the lip and mouth tissue surrounding your teeth. Generally, oral cancer can originate in the following areas:
- Salivary glands
Why get an oral cancer exam?
About 75% of oral cancers are actively linked to smoking, tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption. We are happy to educate patients on lifestyle changes that may decrease their risk of developing oral cancer if they engage in any of the above activities.
When diagnosed early on, oral cancer treatment is usually very effective. If you notice any abnormalities in the regions described above, it’s important that you contact us as soon as possible so we can perform an evaluation on the affected area. During an oral cancer exam, a dental hygienist will closely examine facial and oral regions to look for changes. Below is a list of most common signs that will be examined during an exam:
- Red patches and sores – we will examine red patches on the floor of the mouth and front and sides of the tongue. White or pink patches that fail to heal or are slow healing sores that bleed easily may be linked to oral cancer.
- Leukoplakia – Leukoplakia is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, or may become cancerous if you don’t seek treatment.
- Lumps – If you notice soreness, lumps, or thickening of tissue in your throat or mouth, it may be a signal of pathological issues.
Oral cancer exams: diagnosis and treatment
Oral cancer exams are painless, and involve a dentist looking for abnormalities and feeling the face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. We may also use a laser to identify changes, which allows us to see below the surface and identify abnormal signs that aren’t outwardly visible.
If we do happen to find any abnormalities, we’ll begin implementation of a diagnostic impression and treatment plan. If initial treatment is ineffective, a biopsy of the affected area will be performed. The biopsy will include a clinical evaluation that will outline the stage of oral cancer and grade of the oral lesion.
Oral cancer usually appears when the base of the membrane of the thin layer of protective tissue in your mouth has been broken. Harmful types of cancer can spread to other oral and facial regions, posing additional threats to your health. In these instances, treatment may involve more advanced excision, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
During bi-annual check-ups, we will thoroughly examine the mouth for changes and lesions. However, we do recommend that patients schedule an oral cancer exam as well at least once a year to check for abnormalities that may pose a threat.
If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, please contact our Las Vegas dental practice directly. Our team would be happy to provide additional information regarding our oral cancer screenings.