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Why Oral Cancer Screenings are Important for Everyone, Even Nonsmokers

oral cancer screeningPoway and Rancho Bernardo, CA

Historically, oral cancer has been known to be linked to tobacco use, but that is not the only cause of cancers of the mouth. Oral cancer is also caused by drinking alcohol excessively, lesions in the mouth, sexually transmitted diseases, and excessive exposure to the sun. Oral cancer includes cancer of the soft tissue inside the mouth, under the tongue, and even your lips. Family dentist in Poway, Dr. Nicol Cook, wants you to know why oral cancer screenings are important for everyone, not just tobacco users.

Since early detection means a higher survival rate, routine dental checkups that include oral cancer screenings are vital to your health and could help save your life. Even if you do not smoke or use tobacco, you could be at risk of developing oral cancer. These screenings are so simple and painless and can easily be part of your dental checkup, which should occur once every six months.

The problem is that many Americans do not visit the dentist regularly. Instead, they wait until a problem becomes painful. Unfortunately, oral cancer does not present any symptoms of pain until the later stages, meaning a lower survival rate. If you are not visiting the dentist regularly, you are missing out on this life-saving screening. Not all dentists perform an oral cancer screening, but Dr. Cook understands the importance of this screening, which is why it is part of regular checkups for every patient of all ages, even if you do not use tobacco.

Our oral cancer screenings consist of gentle palpations of the soft tissue inside your mouth. Routine X-rays also are used to identify potential problem areas below the gum line, along the jawbone, and the neck area – one more reason not to skip those recommended X-rays. If any area is found to be questionable, additional diagnostics or imaging may be used for conclusive results. Often, any lesion that is questionable may be removed for a biopsy and sent off to be tested. If oral cancer is confirmed, Dr. Cook will derive a treatment plan. Treatment outcomes will vary for each patient and are highly dependent on the stage of your oral cancer.

In between your visits to the dentist, keep a lookout for signs and symptoms associated with oral cancer.

If you notice any of these signs, contact Dr. Cook today for an appointment. Symptoms of oral cancer may include:

  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Lump or sore area in the mouth, throat or on the lips
  • White or red patch in the mouth that doesn’t go away
  • Difficulty or pain when moving the tongue or jaw
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • A sore or ulcer that does not heal or bleeds
  • Tenderness, pain, or lumps anywhere in the mouth or on the lips

Remember that oral cancer signs usually do not present any pain in the initial stages, which is when diagnosis and treatment are most vital. Therefore, if you ever have any question as to a potential concern on your lips or inside your mouth, contact Dr. Cook to schedule an evaluation. A simple oral cancer screening that takes mere minutes could save your life!

Oral Cancer Screenings in Poway

To learn more about oral cancer or schedule an appointment, please call (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients in Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.

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