A trip to the dentist is far more than a simple routine to ensure your mouth is in tiptop shape. One of the series of tests performed by some dentist practitioners is used to identify the signs of early cancer.
While these screenings should not be described as “life-saving”, they do help to diagnose oral cancer in infancy, and early diagnosis means an improved chance for a cure.
We administer mouth cancer screenings in Leicester at our practice, Aesthetic Smiles, not only to keep your mouth in prime condition but also your overall health.
What can you expect from a cancer screening?
Cancer screening is a thorough mouth examination, where our dentist checks for red or white spots called lesions, while also feeling the tissue for any abnormalities or lumps.
The colouring of your tissue is also a telltale symptom of early-onset cancer – healthy tissue is dark, while cancerous tissue appears white. Instruments such as lights and mirrors are used to confirm signs of mouth diseases that could prove fatal.
The only difference between a screening and other standard procedures, are the tools that are used to highlight oral issues. Commonly used tools include micro-optic cameras and specialised blue light rays.
Remember that unusual lumps and bumps can be found in and around your mouth, and so checks for lumps are performed on the face, neck and nasal cavities, where anything unusual will be quickly identified. Bear in mind that these checks can be considered invasive. If you suffer from dental anxiety, let our dentist know ahead of time.
If the results of your initial mouth cancer screening in Leicester are inconclusive, an additional test might be necessary. Another commonly used method includes rinsing your mouth with a harmless dye. If there are abnormal cells, they will absorb the dye and show up blue.
Are mouth cancer screenings recommended to everyone?
Our dentist will use their discretion regarding whether mouth cancer screenings in Leicester are necessary or not. For some dental practitioners, the examination forms part of a routine.
That said, certain patients are dubbed higher risk than others because of the following factors:
- Smokers and tobacco users
- Heavy drinkers
- People previously diagnosed with cancer
- Sun damage caused by prolonged exposure without taking necessary precautions, i.e. sunblock.
What happens if my results show up positive?
Irregularities are not a definitive sign of cancer but should be regarded with caution. These sores, lesions, lumps or bumps might be benign or non-cancerous, but this should not be taken as an assumption.
Schedule another follow-up appointment with us in two weeks to see whether it has grown or changed shape. We might also advise you to undergo a biopsy with a specialised doctor. The procedure involves taking sample cells that are tested for cancer in a laboratory.
Debunking the myth: screenings cannot cure cancer
These procedures can identify early signs of cancer, and an early diagnosis is advantageous.
At the same time, not all abnormalities show up easily. Your mouth is a tiny space from which to administer the procedure, despite advanced technologies, and so irregularly shaped cells might go undetected. If you feel that something “isn’t quite right”, it is best that you see your local doctor straight away!