Oral Cancer and Oral Cancer Screenings
If a simple, painless health evaluation could tell you something very important, would you want to have it? Common sense says you would. That's why Dr. Phillip Tully, your family dentist in Columbus, GA, performs oral cancer screenings with each of his patients. Yes, at your six-month check-up, Dr. Tully will look at your oral mucosa--that is, the soft tissues of your mouth-- checking for signs of the disease that harms tens of thousands of Americans annually. With early diagnosis, cure rates soar.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is an overgrowth of malignant cells within the mouth, on the tongue, cheeks, back of the throat, salivary glands and lips. New diagnoses of this potential killer number close to 50,000 each year in the United States alone, says the Oral Cancer Foundation. Unfortunately, many cases remain undetected because individuals are not routinely screened.
Screening for oral cancer
Both you and your family dentist in Columbus, GA, can participate in watching for oral cancer. For you the patient, the screening process is as simple as being aware of what is happening inside your mouth. Inspect in and around it as you perform your daily oral hygiene routines. Look for:
- Changes in dental bite or in the fit of a denture
- A sore (red or white) that doesn't heal within 14 days
- A hoarseness in your voice
- Difficulty eating and swallowing
- Bleeding, numbness or facial pain that persists and seems to have no cause
Your family dentist's part is a visual inspection of every individual 18 years and older. Dr. Tully will palpate, or feel, the sides of your neck (lymph nodes) and look carefully at your lips and inside your mouth, including under the tongue and at the roof of your mouth. The process takes just a few minutes as part of your routine check-up, and it's completely comfortable.
Preventing oral cancer
People with suppressed immune systems are prone to oral cancer and to other types as well. Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco present the biggest hazards; Dr. Tully suggests you consult with your primary care physician about a smoking cessation program.
Additionally, some research suggests a diet low in fruits and vegetables creates an environment for oral cancer growth. Exposure to HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus, is another risk factor as are sun exposure and excessive alcohol intake.
Be informed and vigilant
Dr. Phillip Tully and his professional team will help you stay on guard against oral cancer. Is it time for your semi-annual check-up and cleaning? Why not call the office today to schedule your routine appointment? Phone (706) 323-6491.