What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer Screening

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer Screening

Dec 01, 2019

Recent research reports that 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer annually and the number is expected to rise in the coming years. Worst of all, one person dies from oral cancer every day. The irony is, according to the current report 85% of the cases can be cured if detected early.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is an uncontrolled cell growth that affects the lips, gums, tongue, and mouth. However, it can also affect the oropharynx.

Oral cancer symptoms include swelling, lumps, unexplained bleeding, numbness, persistent sores, chronic sore throat, ear pain, and dramatic weight loss.

Why Do We Do Oral Cancer Screening?

Do you know death from oral cancer is caused by late detection and not a lack of treatment? That’s why at Starry Dental we offer oral cancer screening as part of your bi-annual dental exam.

We normally do cancer screening to check for precancerous lesions or abnormal cell growth.

Who is at Risk of Oral Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, several factors can predispose you to oral cancer:

  • Smoking, whether cigar, cigarette, or Pipe increases the risk of oral cancer. Furthermore, people who sniff, chew or dip tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop cancer in the gums, cheeks, and lips.
  • Excessive intake of alcohol and alcoholic beverages
  • Exposure to UV light radiation from the sun or tanning beds can cause cancer of the lips.
  • The HPV virus is linked to both cervical and oral cancer particularly in the back of the mouth, the tongue, and tonsils. Human Papillomavirus is sexually transmitted
  • People who are 55 years and above are at a higher risk
  • Men are twice at risk of developing oral cancer than women
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Diets poor in vegetables and fruits not only affect your immune system but also increase your risk of cancer

It is worth remembering that these factors only increase the risk and may not necessarily cause cancer. Some people without these factors may develop cancer while those who are at risk don’t.

It is, however, important to know your risk factor as it will help you make better lifestyle changes.

How is Oral Cancer Screened?

As part of your dental routine checkup, our dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening using three tests:

  • A physical exam that involves feeling your tongue, under the chin, face, neck, head, and oral activity for lumps and irregular tissue changes.
  • A visual exam is done to check for swelling, ulcerations, immobile tissues, and other abnormalities.
  • A biopsy may be done to determine if the lumps are cancerous or not

What If Abnormal Tissues Are Detected?

If cancer is detected, we will start oral cancer treatment. We may perform surgery to remove the abnormal tissue growth. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy can also be done to remove the cancerous cells.

Is Cancer Preventable?

Although there is no proven way to prevent cancer, a few changes in your lifestyle can help lower the risk.

  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco. Plus, limit your alcohol intake.
  • Protect yourself from exposure to UV light radiation by avoiding tanning machine and use sunscreen.
  • Reduce your risk of HPV by getting the FDA approved vaccine and limit number of sexual partners
  • Eat a balanced diet to boost your immune system and strengthen the body
  • Conduct a self-examination by feeling your mouth, lips, and gums
  • Get regular oral cancer screening. The American Cancer Society advises you to get cancer screening every three years


Oral cancer screening has some limitations such as overdiagnosis and false positives. The oral cancer screening can detect slow-growing cancers or benign cells that may not lead to cancer and as a result, the patient will be subjected to the treatment they don’t need.

At Starry dental, we usually do additional tests when we detect any abnormal cells to ensure we give the right diagnosis.

Come for A Cancer Screening

If you are looking for oral cancer treatment in New Jersey, Starry Dental is the perfect option. Contact us for oral and gum cancer screening.

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