Oral Cancer Screenings in Miami
Half of patients diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma do not survive beyond five years following their diagnosis. This is why early detection is so vitally important. When precancerous and cancerous lesions are detected early on, they can be isolated and treated effectively. Most patients only seek help when they notice a problem, by this point the cancer may have already spread.
Oral cancer screenings are designed to detect minor cell abnormalities before they have a chance to become life-threatening. During your next checkup, ask CG Smile about oral cancer screenings in Miami.
What Happens During a Screening?
During the examination, the practitioner looks for signs of abnormal tissue, lesions (typically red or white spots), and tumors which could indicate the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells.
The reason oral cancer screenings receive so much emphasis is due to the high mortality rate of those diagnosed with late-stage malignant squamous cell carcinomas — one of the most common types of oral cancers. The National Institutes of Health states that only 50% of squamous cell carcinoma patients survive beyond five years following the diagnosis. Early detection is key.
Don't Wait for the Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Screening is different than intervention. The purpose of oral cancer screening is to detect issues early on, when treatment is most effective. Usually by the time a patient notices an abnormality, such as a lump or discolored patch of skin, the disease has already metastasized, making it more difficult to treat.
Screening is performed on patients that usually have no obvious symptoms or indication that cancerous or precancerous cells are present. Early detection can lead to early intervention, which can greatly improve the prognosis.
What if the dentist locates abnormal cells? If the dentist suspects that tissue might be cancerous or precancerous, they will often suggest having a biopsy performed. A biopsy involves sending a cross section of tissue to a pathologist to have a histopathological assessment performed.
The one drawback to oral cancer screenings is that it can be difficult to determine whether an abnormality is a normal part of a patient's physiology. This clean lead to a high percentage of unnecessary biopsies. Fortunately, new technologies and techniques are making it easier for dentists to detect precancerous tissues. Sometimes a dentist will refer a patient to a surgeon to have an incisional or excisional biopsy performed.
Who is at Risk of Oral Cancers?
According to the American Cancer Society, there are several health and lifestyle factors that place individuals at a greater risk of developing oral and oropharyngeal cancers. These include:
- Tobacco use.All kinds of tobacco use can increase your risk of developing oral cancer, not just chewing tobacco.
- Alcohol use.Heavy alcohol use is a risk factor for oral cancers. Even excessive use of high-alcohol mouthwashes can increase the risk.
- Human papillomavirus.The sexually transmitted disease HPV can increase your risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancers.
- Compromised immune system. It’s well known that cancer can lead to a compromised immune system, but immunocompromised patients are also at an increased risk of developing all types of cancer, not just oral cancers.
- Poor oral health. Inconsistent oral hygiene and poor oral health (especially when combined with alcohol and tobacco use) are associated with an increased risk of oral cancers.
- Betel quid and areca use. While not so common in the United States, betel quid is a psychoactive substance that is combined with lime, areca nut, and typically tobacco. Betel quid is a known carcinogen.