Dentists protect smiles and save lives with oral cancer screenings
As dental professionals, Canyon Crossing Dental is on the front lines of detecting cancers of the oral cavity (mouth). It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly.
Led by Dr. Susan Baker, our team strives to identify pre-cancerous lesions and signs of oral cancer early, when they are easier to treat successfully. So, when someone says that “screening saves lives,” it is not an overstatement.
Survival rates are much higher for patients whose cancers are caught and treated before they have spread to other parts of the face, head, and body. Five-year survival rates for localized, early-stage cancers are 84%. For instance, cancers that have spread “regionally” to nearby lymph nodes have a 66% survival rate after five years. The odds of successful treatment continue to trend downward from there as cancer spreads further to distant organs and structures.
What to expect from oral cancer screening
The frequency of screenings generally depends on your risk for developing mouth and throat (pharyngeal) cancers. These risks include smoking and using other products that contain tobacco and nicotine, as well as excessive alcohol consumption and sun exposure (for lip cancers).
Dr. Baker will discuss any concerns or changes since your last visit during these exams. It is important to discuss problems such as frequent hoarseness, earaches, or problems with swallowing.
She will also look for red flags through visual inspection and touch. These potential trouble signs include:
- White or red discoloration
- Sores that fail to heal
- Thick tissues
- Lumps, bumps, and masses
- Changes in how dentures or other appliances fit
She uses other diagnostic tools, such as digital x-rays, to get a clear and detailed picture of tissues and areas of the mouth that cannot be inspected visually or by palpating (touch).
Depending on what she finds, a biopsy or sample of tissue(s) may be taken. These samples are analyzed by appropriate medical professionals to rule out other conditions and accurately pinpoint the cause of your concerns and anomalies. A prompt diagnosis that you can trust is fundamental to effective treatment.
A lot may be riding on oral cancer screenings at Canyon Crossing Dental in Ivins, UT, especially if you are at increased risk of developing mouth and throat cancers. Do not delay scheduling your next evaluation with Dr. Baker or to establish a healthy routine. Call (435) 344-4445 to reach out to our team. We are privileged to support a lifetime of excellent oral and overall health for individuals throughout the greater St. George area.