Posted September 27, 2023 in Oral Cancer
Although often overlooked, oral cancer is a significant health concern affecting thousands of people annually. While it may not receive as much attention as other forms of cancer, early detection and regular screenings are crucial for preventing and successfully treating this potentially life-threatening disease.
Oral cancer accounts for approximately three percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States every year. With an estimated 54,000 new oral cancer cases diagnosed in 2022, it should be clear that regular oral cancer screenings are just as important as other preventive medical care. Here are seven reasons why you should have an oral cancer screening.
Early Detection Saves Lives
One of the most compelling reasons for undergoing regular oral cancer screenings is the potential to catch the disease in its early stages.
Like many cancers, oral cancer is most treatable when detected early, significantly improving the chances of successful treatment and survival. Oral cancer can progress rapidly without early intervention, making early detection critical.
Rising Incidence Rates
Oral cancer is on the rise, with an increasing number of cases reported each year. This trend is attributed to various factors, including changes in lifestyle habits, such as increased tobacco and alcohol use, and the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV), which can contribute to oral cancer. Given these rising incidence rates, regular screenings become even more critical.
No Age or Gender Limitations
Oral cancer does not discriminate based on age or gender. While certain risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol use, can increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer, it can affect anyone. Regular screenings are recommended for both men and women of all age groups, especially if they have risk factors or a family history of the disease.
Painless, Non-Invasive, Quick and Convenient
Oral cancer screenings are simple, painless, and non-invasive procedures. During a typical screening, a healthcare provider or dentist examines the oral cavity and surrounding areas for signs of abnormalities, such as sores, red or white patches, or unusual lumps. It is a quick and straightforward process that can be included in your regular dental check-ups.
Oral cancer screenings are also quick and convenient. During a dental check-up, your dentist can thoroughly examine your mouth and throat to ensure they address any potential issues promptly.
Regular oral cancer screenings are a cost-effective way to prevent the disease from progressing to advanced stages. The cost of screenings is minimal compared to the expenses associated with treating advanced cancer, which may require surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Lifestyle and Behavioral Factors
Several lifestyle and behavioral factors can increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Smoking or using smokeless tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor oral hygiene are known risk factors. Those who engage in these behaviors should be vigilant about getting screened regularly to catch any potential issues early.
For individuals who use tobacco or consume alcohol regularly, oral cancer screenings can also serve as a valuable tool for motivating behavioral change. Learning about the potential risks and seeing the early signs of oral cancer can be a powerful incentive to stop using nicotine products or reduce alcohol consumption.
High-Risk Populations Benefit Most
Certain populations are at higher risk for oral cancer due to lifestyle choices or genetic predisposition. Individuals who use tobacco products, consume alcohol regularly, have a history of HPV infection, or have a family history of oral cancer are particularly susceptible, making regular screenings even more critical.
Oral cancer often goes unnoticed in its early stages because it may not cause noticeable symptoms or discomfort, making screenings essential for high-risk individuals. By the time symptoms become evident, the cancer may have already progressed to a more advanced stage.
Other Reasons To Consider Receiving an Oral Cancer Screening
- Oral cancer can cause facial disfiguration and affect essential functions like speaking and swallowing. Advanced cases may require extensive surgical procedures that can alter a person’s appearance and quality of life. Early detection and treatment can help prevent such severe consequences.
- Knowing you are regularly screened for oral cancer can provide peace of mind. It allows you to take proactive steps in managing your health and reducing the anxiety associated with uncertainty. Early detection offers reassurance and can potentially save lives.
- Oral cancer screenings are non-invasive, painless, and can save lives by catching the disease in its earliest and most treatable stages. With rising incidence rates and the potential for symptomless progression, regular screenings are essential for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
- Whether you have risk factors or not, including oral cancer screenings as part of your healthcare routine is a proactive step toward maintaining your overall health and well-being.
Gentle Care Dentistry for Oral Cancer Screenings in Las Cruces, NM
Gentle Care Dentistry offers thorough oral cancer screenings in Las Cruces, New Mexico, as part of our wide range of comprehensive dental services. You can expect compassionate care and professionalism when you schedule an appointment at our Las Cruces dental office.