What to expect during an oral cancer exam

The statistics on oral cancer are frightening: More than 7,500 people will die this year from oral cancer, and another 35,000 people will be diagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health. Even more, the five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with oral cancer is only 60 percent, and experts warn that the disease can spread throughout the body at a fast pace. For this reason, early diagnosis and treatment is crucial. At your regular appointment, your dentist may conduct an exam to check for the presence of cancer. Read on to learn what to expect.

Before the exam, your dentist will ask you to remove any dentures and relax so your face, neck, lips, and mouth can be checked. The dentist will then use his hands to feel for any lumps under your jaw or along the side of your neck. He will also look at your tongue and the inside of your cheeks and lips for any noticeable signs of cancer, including red and white patches, swelling, or an abnormal texture. Next, the dentist will use gauze to gently move your tongue so he can see the underside and base of the tongue. Finally, the roof and floor of your mouth, as well as the back of your throat, will also be examined.

The entire exam takes only a few minutes and is entirely painless. Fortunately, this simple procedure can also help save your life. To learn more about the risks and symptoms, or request an oral cancer screening, talk to a dentist on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan.

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