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Should I Get Screened For Oral Cancer?

Posted on 11/15/2023 by Janice K. Pliszczak, DDS
Image of a woman touching her cheek that could have oral cancer.Oral cancer represents 3% of all cancers that doctors diagnose each year. While any kind of cancer is worrisome, oral cancer, because of the potential for disfigurement, can be very troubling. The good news is that oral cancer is largely preventable, and if you catch oral cancer early, you can have it treated. Here is some information about oral cancer and who should get screened.

Signs of Oral Cancer

There are some signs of oral cancer you need to be aware of. First, you need to look for ulcers or lumps in your mouth that do not go away. Many people have mouth ulcers, but those ulcers, called canker sores, go away within a few days. Ulcers or bumps inside your mouth that don't go away need to be checked by a dentist.

Risk Factors

While you have a small chance of getting oral cancer if you have no risk factors, you have a far greater chance of getting oral cancer if you use tobacco in any form. If you smoke, vape, or chew nicotine, you have a far greater risk of getting oral cancer. You are also at a higher risk of oral cancer if you have a history of drinking a lot of alcohol.

Oral Cancer Screening

If you are worried about oral cancer, you can put your mind at ease with regular cancer screenings. Dentists can screen you for oral cancer in a variety of ways. First, dentists look at all of your teeth, gums, tongue, cheek, and other mouth structures during your semi-annual dental checkup. You can also ask for an oral cancer screening from your dentist, which is a good idea if you are at a higher risk for oral cancer. If you are screened each year, you increase the chances that your cancer can be caught early and treated.

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