Oral cancer screening is an examination performed by Dr. Elbrecht where he looks for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. Usually an oral cancer screening is performed during a routine dental checkup. Oral cancer screenings and examinations can be performed separately as well.
Why perform an oral cancer screening?
The goal is to identify oral cancer or precancerous lesions that might lead to oral cancer in the mouth at an early stage. Cancer or lesions are easiest to remove and most likely to be cured when identified early.
Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Tobacco use of any kind
- Heavy alcohol use
- Previous oral cancer diagnosis
- History of significant sun exposure
How do dentists test for oral cancer?
During an oral cancer screening exam, Dr. Elbrecht looks over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. He will feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities.
If you are wearing dentures or partial dentures that are removable, he might ask you to remove them so the tissue underneath can be examined.
How often do I need an oral cancer screening?
It is best to get an oral cancer screening at your routine dental exam. For most, this happens once or twice a year. In that case that you have various risk factors you may be required to have frequent screenings. This is especially true if you are a smoker since smoking is one of the highest risk factors.
What happens if I have signs of oral cancer?
If Dr. Elbrecht finds any signs of mouth cancer or precancerous lesions he might recommend a follow-up visit to see the condition of the area as well as recommend a biopsy procedure to remove a sample of cells for laboratory testing to determine whether cancer cells are present.