How dentists screen for oral cancer

by Riverside Heights Dental November 22nd, 2023 in Dental Services
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Did you know our dentists perform oral cancer screening? It’s one of the important services we provide to help our patients with their oral health.

With the goal of catching oral cancer early, our dentists screen through an initial observation to look at suspicious areas of the mouth. We can also use a special screening light called a VelScope (more info on that here).  But first, let’s answer some basic questions.

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is abnormal growths and cells that spread throughout the lining of the mouth. It can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks, roof, floor, upper throat or salivary glands. It’s often first noticed as a white patch of skin that thickens and enlarges; sort of like a growing ulcer.

What are some symptoms of oral cancer?

  • Sores or white patches that do not heal
  • Dark red patches that do not heal
  • Feeling of lumps in the mouth or throat
  • Change in texture of mouth tissues

How will my dentist screen for oral cancer?

Your dentist will ask about any signs or symptoms you’ve noticed. They’ll ask if there is any family history of cancer. They will do a careful, physical exam of your mouth and neck to check for visible signs, swellings and lumps. If there is a questionable lesion, they can use a VelScope. This device uses light to enhance the visualisation of mouth abnormalities like those found in oral cancer.

Who is most at risk?

Oral cancer can appear at any age, but it shows up more in those over 45 and particularly in those over 60. Statistics also show it happens more often to men, smokers, drinkers, those who’ve had an HPV infection, those with poor nutrition and poor oral health, and those with increased sun exposure (lip cancer).

For more information on oral cancer, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

Contact Riverside Heights Dental in Surrey BC for more information on how dental exams are used for oral cancer screening. 604-584-2535