Oral Cancer Screenings

A very Important part of any recall appointment is the oral cancer screening.

  • Our goal is to identify suspicious or obvious lesions during every re-care appointment.  The best chances of a cure are when we can identify any change at an early stage.  We try to identify these areas before the symptoms of disease are evident.  Oral cancer is most easily treated when it is identified before it gets a chance to spread (metastasize).
  • Very often the only symptom of early oral cancer is a sore area of the mouth or tongue.  Many times no symptoms are present in early cancer lesions. Examination may reveal only a small area of red or white tissue on the gum, cheek or tongue area.
  • Dr. Covington and her team conduct oral cancer screenings at every regular exam. If you detect any of the below “signs or symptoms” in your mouth, on your gums, tongue or lips, please contact our office immediately at 843-665-6200 immediately.

Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers, with roughly 35,000 new cases reported annually in the United States. The vast majority of oral cancers occur in people older than 50 years, with men being twice as likely as women to develop the disease. The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate, tissues in back of the tongue, lips and gums. Again, Dr. Covington performs a thorough screening for oral cancer on all of her patients at every re-care visit.

Scientists aren’t sure of the exact cause of oral cancer. However, the carcinogens in tobacco products and alcohol, as well as excessive exposure to the sun, have been found to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

Oral cancer represented by red, white or discolored lesions, patches or lumps in or around the mouth is typically painless in its early stages. As the malignant cancer spreads and destroys healthy oral tissue, the lesions or lumps become more painful. However, oral cancer is sometimes difficult to self-diagnose, so routine dental exams are recommended. See Dr. Covington immediately if you observe: any sore that persists longer than two weeks; a swelling, growth or lump anywhere in or about the mouth or neck; white or red patches in the mouth or on the lips; repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat; difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness.

Prevention

Avoiding tobacco of all forms and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can help you prevent oral cancer.  The risk of oral cancer is 15 times higher in those who both smoke and drink compared to non-users of tobacco and alcohol products. Research suggests that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may safeguard against oral cancer. Because successful treatment and rehabilitation are dependent on early detection, it is extremely important to regularly check your mouth for changes in appearance and see your dentist for an oral cancer screening and regular checkup at least every six months. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. During your next dental visit, ask your Dr. Covington to do an oral cancer screening.