Oral cancer screening 101

Aug 02, 2021

In the United States of America, approximately 53,000 individuals are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Oral cancer also accounts for roughly 30% of all cancer cases. A more worrying statistic is that one person succumbs to cancer in every 24 hours.

According to Oral Cancer Foundation, the biggest nightmare of cancer is not the lack of diagnosing equipment for the disease, but late detection. Once a case of cancer has been diagnosed in the late stages, the chances of survival are very bleak.

Oral cancer like many other types of cancers has no signs and symptoms in the early stages. It therefore continues growing while remaining undetected. It’s therefore essential to have an oral cancer screening to get the status of your health.

Oral cancer exam

An oral cancer exam is screening conducted by a dentist to look for signs of precancerous conditions and abrasions in the oral cavity. The primary goal of the exam is to detect cancer at an early stage. Once identified earlier, it can be addressed easily.

In the recent past, there has been numerous debates about the benefits of the oral cancer screening without any conclusive arguments. Even so, dentists still insist on oral cancer screening since early detection increases your chances of survival.

You must be wondering how often you need an oral cancer screening. The topic on frequency of the tests has also been debatable. Frequency of visiting the dentist can only be determined by the dentists only. OCF however recommends getting screen at least once every year after graduating to 18.

Oral screening procedure

When going for oral cancer screening, no prior preparation is needed. It is however always advisable to let the dentist know if you have any preexisting dental conditions. The process is straightforward since it involves only two processes;

  • Physical exam

The dentist will check abnormal bumps or irregularities in the parts of the mouth. The dentist checks and touches parts such as jaw, oral cavity, under the chin, cheeks and head. The objective of the physical exam is to check swelling, lumps and immobile tissues.

  • Visual exam

During a visual exam, the dentist uses a torch to check artificial checks for bumps, asymmetries, bumps and color. The dentist also checks your gums, palate, throat, inner cheeks, tonsils and underneath.

It is recommended that you remove any dental appliance should be removed before the virtual exam is conducted. After the visual exam, the dentist may recommend a biopsy procedure if precancerous lesions are found.

A biopsy procedure

It’s a process of extracting samples of lesions for laboratory testing to ascertain whether you are suffering from cancer. Where the test is not conclusive, the dentist may schedule a follow-up visits to check the behavior of the tissue.

Are oral cancer screenings painful?

Unlike most people’s beliefs, oral cancer screenings are straightforward and pain-free. The dentist does not use any other tool apart from their hands and a torch.

Risk factors of oral cancer

Professionals never seem to agree on when to get oral cancer screening. Some experts claim that the screening should be conducted when the risk for developing the disease rises.

Development of cancer is however very unique. It depends on many factors besides the age. There are other risk factors that you should check;

  • History of oral cancer in the family lineage
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Gender (men are more susceptible)
  • Excessive intake of alcohol

Risks of oral cancer exams

Normally, you might experience mouth sores and lesions that are non-cancerous, the dentist may end up recommending additional tests which turn out to be unnecessary. Furthermore, oral cancer screening cannot detect miniature precancerous cells.


For many decades, it’s always been said that prevention is the ideal deal breaker. You should not wait till things go haywire and start rushing looking for a cure of a disease that could be prevented. You should therefore visit the dentist near you and have your screening.

If you want to know more about oral cancer screening, the procedure involved, and risks, visit Unique Dental Care and receive professional help from the talented team of doctors. Schedule an online appointment today and start your journey of combating any chances of oral cancer.

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