Oral Cancer Exams in Lombard IL
Mouth Cancer Screenings and Diagnosis
What is oral cancer?
Any form of cancer affecting the mouth or back of the throat is a form of oral cancer. It can develop on the mouth, gums, soft tissues of the mouth, beneath the tongue, on the tongue, or the back of the throat. About twice as many men as women develop oral cancer, accounting for about three percent of all cancers diagnosed yearly.
What causes oral cancer?
There are several forms of oral cancer, but they all share common causes and risk factors.
- Tobacco Use. Cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and other forms of tobacco, including snuff, increase your risk of oral cancer.
- Alcohol Use. Daily or excessive alcohol consumption raises your risk. If you drink alcohol and use tobacco, your risk is even greater.
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). The sexually transmitted HPV 16 virus is strongly linked to oral cancers.
- Sun Exposure. Lip cancer can be caused by overexposure to the sun.
- As people age, their risk of contracting oral cancer increases. Most patients are generally over the age of 40.
What are the early signs of oral cancer?
The earliest signs of oral cancer are often overlooked, making a regular oral cancer exam a crucial part of a yearly dental checkup. Never ignore even the earliest symptoms of oral cancer. If you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, contact Forcioli Family Dentistry to schedule an exam.
- A sore or irritated bump or thickened area in your mouth, throat, or on the lip
- A feeling like something is caught in your throat
- Sores in the mouth that bleed and do not heal
- A red or white patch, sometimes raised or scaly, in your mouth
- Difficulty talking, swallowing, or chewing
- Swelling of the jaw
- Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw
- Changes in how your dentures fit
- Numbness of the tongue or inside of the mouth
What does a doctor look for during an oral cancer exam?
Dr. Forcioli looks for any abnormalities in the mouth during an oral cancer exam. Typical signs he checks for include red or white patches, sores, and lumps or bumps. He will visually examine the mouth and throat and feel the interior tissues of the mouth with gloved hands. He may also use a special laser to identify lesions below the surface that cannot be seen. The exam takes just a few minutes and is a part of your routine dental checkup.
What happens if I get an oral cancer diagnosis?
There are many ways to treat oral cancer, including excision of the cancerous area, radiation, and chemotherapy. A biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis; then, a treatment plan is developed to treat the type of severity of your cancer. Dr. Forcioli will collaborate with an oral surgeon and any other doctors to help facilitate your oral cancer treatment.
What are some potential complications of oral cancer?
The most common complications of oral cancer include changes to your mouth’s appearance, tongue swelling, speech difficulties, numbness, and difficulty swallowing. Oral cancer treatments can also cause side effects, including nausea and loss of appetite or sense of taste.
Advanced oral cancer, left untreated, may require advanced surgery, including removal of a portion of the mouth’s lips, tongue, or tissues. In severe cases, reconstructive surgery may be necessary.
How can I prevent oral cancer?
It is impossible to prevent oral cancer, but there are ways you can significantly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, including:
- Stop smoking, or do not start. The same applies to smokeless tobacco, such as snuff or chewing tobacco. Tobacco contains potent carcinogens (cancer-causing ingredients).
- Reduce your alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol consumption irritates the cells in the mouth. For adults, moderate drinking, such as one drink a day for women and two for men, should be the limit.
- Stop vaping, several studies are beginning to show a correlation between E-cigarettes and cartridges which hold tobacco or THC and oral cancer. These products are largely unregulated by the FDA, containing thousands of potentially carcinogenic chemicals some of which are the same found in household cleaning products.
- Protect your lips from sun exposure. Many people use sunscreen on their faces but neglect their lips. Use a daily lip balm containing sunscreen and wear a broad-brimmed hat outdoors.
- See Dr. Forcioli annually for a complete dental exam and oral cancer screening.
Contact our office to schedule a screening if you have not had an oral cancer screening in the past year. We can be reached at Lombard Office Phone Number 630-627-1495.