Why we prioritize oral cancer screenings for all patients

There are many truths about oral cancers that only underscore the importance of visiting your friendly team at Mirage Family Dentistry in Yorktown, Virginia, for regular cancer screenings. No. 1, research suggests that you do not even have to try a cigarette or chew tobacco to develop a cancerous mass in your mouth or on the lips. Risk factors for these cancers include smoking and using other tobacco products and HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. No. 2, as the Cleveland Clinic reports, 25% of oral cancer patients have no known risk factors. These individuals do not smoke or have HPV infections, excessive alcohol consumption, unprotected exposure to UV light (associated with lip cancers), and other risks. 

Cancers are generally easier to treat successfully and quickly when detected at their earliest stages when localized or limited to the site or origin. The survival rates drop as the cancer spreads to nearby tissues and distant organs and areas. Due to the nature of oral cancers, Dr. Rajni Kapoor prioritizes cancer screenings for all patients, including those who do not smoke or who, in theory, are not at elevated risk of developing malignant tumors. 

Dr. Kapoor does not wait to check for these cancers once a year. Instead, she checks for anomalies in the mouth, head, and neck during every check-up. Check-ups are generally scheduled once every six months. Now, if you do have known risk factors, we may recommend more than semi-annual appointments. That way, Dr. Kapoor can get ahead of any visual or functional changes, such as lumps, bumps, discoloration, swelling, and problems with swallowing. 

The process of screening during these visits is straightforward. It integrates easily into other services, including comprehensive oral exams and professional teeth cleaning. The screening essentially involves: 

  • Answering a few questions about your oral and overall health. 
  • Telling Dr. Kapoor about any concerns that may have arisen since your last appointment (some of the “red flags” for cancers are listed above).
  • An examination by Dr. Kapoor, in which she feels for lumps and other abnormalities by touch, a process called “palpating,” or she looks for any patches and other visible concerns. 
  • Advanced diagnostic tools to help Dr. Kapoor see very small areas and potential problems that are not visible with the human eye alone. Our cutting-edge diagnostics range from intraoral camera technology to digital x-rays and precision cone beam CT scans. 

As needed, a small sample of tissue or biopsy will be taken to rule out serious problems, such as pre-cancers and cancers. Schedule your check-up today. Oral cancers have a high rate of successful treatment and survival when detected and treated early in the disease process. Call (757) 856-5545 to reach the Mirage Family Dentistry team in Yorktown, VA.