Oral cancer screening is a visual and physical examination performed by a doctor or dentist to look for any signs of precancerous conditions or cancer in your mouth. Its main goal is to determine mouth cancer early when there is still a chance for a cure.
At Sterling Heights, Dr. Fadi Farhat performs a mouth examination during a routine dental visit. This is primarily done to screen for oral cancer. Dr. Fadi Farhat can perform further tests to help identify areas of abnormal cells in your mouth.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is painless during its early stages. Often, it goes unnoticed until it spreads. During its later stages, oral cancer may lead to oral and facial disfigurement. The removal of a portion of the jaw and tongue may be necessary when surgery is required.
Signs of oral cancer include the following:
- Persistent hoarseness
- Sore spot in or around the neck or mouth
- A mouth sore that doesn’t heal
- Red or white patches on the lips or in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Repeated bleeding from the throat or mouth
Factors that raise your risk of oral cancer include heavy alcohol use, history of significant sun exposure, tobacco use, and previous oral cancer diagnosis.
What to Expect Visual Dental Exam?
The major parts of an oral cancer screening are the examinations of your face, lips, inside of the nose, neck, and oral cavity. Prior to the screening, you must take out all removable dental appliances in order to expose each area.
Dr. Fadi Farhat will look for swellings, patches of color, bumps, ulcerations, asymmetries, and other abnormalities. A light and mirror will be used to see clearly inside of your nose and mouth. Also, a tongue depressor will be used to hold down your tongue so Dr. Fadi Farhat can have a clear view of your mouth’s back area. You may be asked to say “Ahh” to expose areas in your throat.
A nasopharyngolaryngoscopy may also be used by Dr. Fadi Farhat. This is a flexible fiber optic camera that will be inserted into your nose and down your throat to look at your pharynx and larynx.
What to Expect Physical Dental Exam?
During or after the visual dental examination, Dr. Fadi Farhat will also touch your cheeks, head, under your chin, around your jaw, and in the oral cavity to feel for any unusual masses or nodules. Immobility of normally mobile tissue is also a sign of a possible problem. You may be asked if physical contact causes discomfort. A painless swelling can be a sign of oral cancer. You also will be asked to swallow while your throat is examined.
An oral cancer screening is not a diagnostic, but a precautionary measure. When Dr. Fadi Farhat finds nothing abnormal, you may be asked to return at regular intervals, especially when you are using tobacco or drinking alcohol, or follow practices that increase the risk of oral cancer.
Moreover, an oral cancer screening is an opportunity for you to ask Dr. Fadi Farhat about fears and concerns, or to ask for pieces of advice about reducing your risk. Take a look at our blogs to find more information on oral screenings.