Oral Cancer screening in Vancouver, BC

Cancer is something that nobody likes to think about. However, it’s important to get regular screenings for oral cancer as a precaution.  At our office we perform a careful examination at each cleaning and checkup to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. During your checkup, we examine your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer. The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify signs of oral cancer early on, when treatment is most likely to be successful. As with most cancers, early detection ensures the best possible chance of survival.

Oral cancer can affect the gum tissues, lips, tongue, roof of the mouth and throat. Early symptoms of oral cancer are often silent, which is why it is so important to maintain regular check ups with your dentist. If you experience any of the following symptoms, be sure to come in right away :

  • A red, white or greyish patch in the mouth that does not heal within a week
  • One or more sores in the mouth
  • A feeling of a lump in the throat
  • A chronic sore throat
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain in the tongue, jaw or teeth

Risk factors that can increase your chances of developing oral cancer include:

  • Smoking (including chewing tobacco or other tobacco products)
  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Excessive sun exposure to your lips.
  • Prior infection with the human papillomavirus virus (HPV)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Men are about twice more likely to develop oral cancer than women
  • Weakened immune system

Eating a well balanced diet, monitoring your intake of alcohol, quitting smoking and using a lip balm that contains SPF are all good preventative measures. However, it’s still important that you maintain regular dental check ups about twice a year. Your dentist is trained to spot early signs of oral cancer, and as part of the examination will use specialized equipment as well as digital X-rays to detect any abnormalities.