April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and there’s no better time to learn about steps you can take to prevent this condition. Here is an overview of some of the most common reasons you may experience oral cancer, why regular oral cancer screening is important, and what you can expect if possible signs of oral cancer are found.
Purpose of Oral Cancer Screening
Like most types of cancer, treating oral cancer is much easier and more likely to be successful when the condition is found in an early stage. For this reason, regular oral cancer screening can be an important step in identifying potential signs of this type of cancer as early as possible and taking a closer look at what suspicious symptoms mean, especially if you are at an especially high risk of developing this condition. Most dentists include a basic level of oral cancer screening as part of your regular exams, which should occur approximately every six months, and more specialized testing may be beneficial if your lifestyle choices or family history make you more likely to develop oral cancer.
Next Steps If Signs of Oral Cancer Are Found
Not all abnormalities that could indicate oral cancer automatically mean that you have this condition, which means that your dentist will schedule a biopsy or other testing of suspicious cells to determine whether they are benign or cancerous. If cancerous cells are found, you will begin a similar treatment program to what you might expect from other types of cancer, which may include surgery, chemotherapy or other medications, radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatment options.
Preventing Oral Cancer
Although oral cancer is relatively treatable if it is detected early, taking a proactive approach to prevent this condition is even more important. Avoiding certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking and chewing tobacco, is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. Excessive alcohol use and sun exposure may also make you more likely to develop certain types of oral cancer, and you should obtain more frequent screenings if you have previously received a potential or confirmed oral cancer diagnosis or have a family history of this condition.
At Foote Family Dental Care, we are here to help you and your family build strong oral health habits and reduce your risk of developing severe oral health concerns during Oral Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year. Regular general or family dentistry visits play an important role in minimizing your risk of developing these conditions and makes any problems you do experience more likely to be found early, as well as improve your overall oral health and hygiene. Contact us today to learn more about what you can do to prevent oral cancer or to schedule an appointment!