Oral cancer screening is one of the most important things that dental professionals can do for their patients. Over 34,000 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth and pharynx are diagnosed every year, and there are nearly 8,000 fatalities. As with all forms of cancer, early detection is key. That’s why we make sure to conduct a thorough oral cancer examination on each of our biannual cleaning patients. During your oral cancer screening in NYC, Dr. Gross or Dr. Kaplan will evaluate your teeth, gums and temporomandibular joints (TMJs) and inspect your head and neck. Your neck and face will be palpated, along with your tongue, lips, gum tissue and cheeks. Finally, the dentist will peer into your throat. Any lumps, bumps or changes will be noted and discussed with you.
Changes in the mouth are fairly common, but in most instances, they are not indicative of oral cancer. Should we find any pathologies we will discuss and show you the area and determine the best course of action. We may wait for a couple of weeks to see if the area heals. We may take a simple “brush biopsy” to gently remove a few cells for analysis or if the area is small remove it in it’s entirety by laser for analysis by a pathology laboratory. Finally, we may refer you for a consultation for biopsy, where a larger piece of tissue is removed and sent to a pathology laboratory for analysis.
Benefits of Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer screening promotes early detection of mouth cancer or precancerous symptoms that can lead to premature stages of mouth cancer. Early stages are when lesions or cancer can be more easily removed and most likely be cured. If you are at a higher risk of oral cancer, screenings are especially important. Factors that increase oral cancer risk include:
- Tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and more
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Previous diagnosis of oral cancer
Ask your dentist whether oral cancer screening is a good option for you, as well as ways you can personally reduce your risk of oral cancer.
After Your Screening
Because an oral cancer screening in NYC is precautionary, not diagnostic, you may simply be asked to return for further screening during regular visits. If certain symptoms occur, the dentist may refer you for further tests to uncover the underlying problem. That being said, recommending more tests is not necessarily a cancer diagnosis. In each step of the process, our team of professionals will openly discuss with you the situation and what’s needed to move forward.