During your regular visits, Dr. Lawlor may conduct an oral cancer screening. Screenings are a procedure that helps professionals detect cancer within their patients beforehand through examination and discovery of any abnormal tissue or other signs. When conditions such as oral cancer are discovered early on, they may be easier to treat. It is important to recognize that even if a dentist encourages the conducting of an oral cancer screening on you, it does not mean you are particularly at risk for it.
Importance of Screenings
Aside from the emphasis on the significance of an early diagnosis, oral cancer screenings exist as a chance for you to discuss any concerns you may have. Our team is not only there to conduct the screening, but also for you to ask for advice about precautionary measures and what might help reduce the risk. Always speak with one of our staff if you have any questions or concerns, whether during an exam or otherwise, and know that we’re here to help every step of the way.
What to Expect
We usually begin an oral screening by looking for bumps, swelling, discoloration, ulcerations, lack of symmetry, or other ‘abnormalities’. This is where the quintessential “Say Ahh” makes an appearance; patients are asked to do so because it helps the dentist more effectively see otherwise difficult areas such as the roof of the mouth or the throat.
The physical examination helps identify oral cancer by inspecting the immobility of commonly mobile tissues. The patient will be asked if the exam is causing any physical discomfort or pain. As you might expect, pain could be an indicator of oral cancer symptoms. However, if there is swelling, but no detectable pain, it’s still possible that there is a larger problem to be determined.
After the Screening
One of the most essential things to note is that oral cancer screenings are precautionary and not inherently diagnostic. We may find nothing abnormal during a visit, but you may be asked to return for regular screenings depending on certain risk factors, such as the use of tobacco or consumption of alcohol. However, just because something was noted during an oral cancer screening, it does not mean that the patient has oral cancer.