Oral Cancer Screening in San Francisco, CA

We take our patients’ oral health seriously. That’s why we offer dental exams and oral cancer screenings to our patients in San Francisco.

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What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer (also commonly called mouth cancer) is a disease caused by changes in the DNA of cells in the tissues of the mouth, lips, and tongue. Oral and oropharyngeal cancers are the most common type of head and neck cancers. is the most These changes can cause the cells to grow abnormally and form tumors. Oral cancer may form in the mouth, tongue, tonsils, throat, lymph nodes, salivary glands, and lips. If left untreated, oral cancers can spread to other parts of the body.

It is a common cancer found in people over the age of 60, although it can occur in anyone.

Oropharyngeal cancer is often treated with radiation therapy, and this treatment has a high success rate when the cancer is caught at its earliest stages. 

Importance of Regular Oral Cancer Screenings

Oral cavity cancers can be difficult to detect without a proper visual screening, which is why it often goes unnoticed until it has advanced. When oral cancer is found early, it has an 80 to 90% survival rate. Oral cancer screenings are encouraged so your dentist can detect any symptoms or precancerous lesions at an early stage when they can be treated most easily.

What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening

An oral cancer screening includes a visual examination of the mouth, tongue, lips, gums, and throat. Dr. Morghem will ask about your medical history and whether you have a family history of cancer. She may also use a special dye or light that will show abnormal tissues.

If Dr. Morghem suspects that abnormal cells may be present, she may order additional tests including a biopsy to further examine the tissue and determine if there are cancer cells present.

If you notice any changes in your mouth, such as sores, lumps, redness, swelling, bleeding, or ulcers, please contact us immediately.

Risks Factors for Oral Cancer

While oral cancer can occur in anyone, there are some risk factors that make a person more likely to be diagnosed. People who are over the age of 60, caucasian, and male are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer.

Lifestyle risk factors include:

smoking and other types of tobacco use

too much sun exposure without proper SPF protection

HPV

excessive alcohol consumption

a weakened immune system

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Symptoms

The following may be signs of cancer in the oral cavity:

  • sores in the oral cavity that won’t heal (including in the mouth, gums, lips, and throat)
  • white or red patches inside the mouth
  • loose teeth
  • bad breath
  • mouth pain or ear pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a lump inside the mouth that is growing

Lowering Your Risk of Oral Cancer

There are a few things you can do to lower your risk of mouth cancer:

  • Do not smoke or use tobacco, as it is a leading cause of cancer, especially in the oral cavity
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol
  • Take preventive measures to lower your risk of HPV
  • Maintain good oral hygiene habits
  • Get regular dental checkups that include an oral cancer screening

How often should you have an oral cancer screening?

Since early detection can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment of oral cancer, it’s important to have a screening regularly. For patients under the age of 40, this means having a screening every three years. The chances of getting oral cancer increase with age, so those over the age of 40 should get screened annually.

Those in high-risk populations, such as adults who smoke or overuse tobacco, heavy alcohol users, those with HPV, and those with a family history of cancer, should also get screened annually.

Request an Oral Cancer Examination in San Francisco at Sunset Dentistry

Don’t let your oral health rest on the back burner. If you’ve never had an oral cancer screening, or if it’s been a while since your last screening, call us today to schedule your oral exam.