Oral Cancer Screenings – Harrisonburg, VA
A Simple Screening Could Save Your Life
Did you know that oral cancer kills about one person per hour in the United States? Close to 50,000 individuals are diagnosed with this devastating disease each year, and long-term survival is often closely associated with early diagnosis and treatment. That is why we encourage all of our patients to visit us for regular oral cancer screenings.
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Experts recommend that all adults get screened for oral cancer at least once a year. Many people think that only individuals who smoke or chew tobacco need to be worried about this disease, and it is true that such people are at a greater risk. Those who drink heavily, older individuals, and those who have spent a lot of time in the sun may also be more likely to develop oral cancer. However, no one is exempt from the need for regular screenings. Anyone can develop oral cancer, regardless of their lifestyle or other risk factors.
In recent years, more and more younger people have been developing oral cancer. The trend is partly due to the prevalence of the human papilloma virus (HPV). It is the most common sexually transmitted disease, and most people aren’t even aware that they have it. Certain types of HPV have been linked with the onset of oral cancer.
The Screening Process
An oral cancer screening in Harrisonburg is a simple, quick, and painless procedure. Your dentist or one of our hygienists will perform a visual and tactile examination of your mouth and the areas around it. Some of the warning signs that we look for include:
- Unusual sores
- Any thick or swollen patches in the oral cavity
- Areas of white or red discoloration
- A lump in the neck
- Loose teeth
- Unusual bad breath
It’s also important to tell us if you have noticed any potential signs of oral cancer in yourself. Some of the things that you may want to bring up include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes to your voice
- Persistent pain in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Numbness anywhere in your mouth
- A sore throat that doesn’t go away
If we suspect that you have oral cancer, we’ll recommend that you visit your primary care doctor, who can arrange for you to undergo a biopsy or other diagnostic tests.
Fighting Oral Cancer
For patients who get diagnosed with oral cancer, the treatment depends on the exact nature of the condition and how far it has spread in the body. Sometimes, a surgery is all that is needed to remove the cancer. In other cases, multiple surgeries, along with chemotherapy and radiation, form part of the treatment plan.
Sadly, the treatment for oral cancer sometimes has serious consequences for the way the mouth, throat, and teeth work. Our team may be able to work alongside other experts to restore dental function and help patients get back to enjoying a full and healthy life.
Is it time for your next oral cancer screening? Contact us today to schedule a checkup.