Am I at risk for oral cancer?


Oral cancer accounts for 1% of all cancers. While more prevalent in smokers, oral cancer can happen to anyone and at any age. The key to success is early diagnosis before the cancer cells have had a chance to spread. Naturally, dentists are in a great position to detect these cancers given how much time they spend looking in your mouth. An oral cancer screening is performed by your dentist during routine dental appointments. It is a great way of trying to find symptoms of this disease while still in its treatable stages.

How do you perform an oral cancer screening?

Our oral cancer screening protocol consists of a manual and visual examination. The exams are as follows:

  • Visual Screening: During our visual oral cancer screening we examine for any suspicious lesions. We start by looking at your head and neck region. Next, we examine inside of your mouth including your cheeks, tongue, palate and gum area. Suspicious cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions typically appear as red or white spots. They typically have undefined, raised borders and occasionally demonstrate ulceration.
  • Manual Screening: We start our manual oral cancer screening by palpating your head and neck region. Since oral cancer travels through head and neck lymph nodes, it’s important to examine this region carefully. We feel for any firm or swollen lymph nodes. We examine your occipital, postauricular, preauricular, anterior cervical, posterior cervical, supraclavicular, submandibular and submental lymph nodes. We examine to look for any suspicious nodes, which are typically firm and non-tender.

What happens if a suspicious lesion is detected?

We make a note of any suspicious lesions or nodes. We will inform you of our finding and recommend follow-up in two weeks. Should the same lesion or nodule persist after these two weeks, we need to eliminate it as a potential cancerous lesion. Any suspicious lesion will be noted and re-examined in 2 weeks. Should the lesion persist, we will either perform a brush biopsy or make appropriate referral for further evluation.

What is Bio/Screen?

  • oral-cancer-invisible-lesion
    A visual exam did not show any signs of cancerous lesion.

We use Bio/Screen to assist us in early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions. Bio/Screen is an oral cancer detection tool which emits a blue light. This blue light is designed to detect changes in tissue which are invisible to the naked eye. If we detect a suspicious lesions, we will followup in two weeks. Should the lesion persists, we will perform a biopsy or make appropriate referral for further evaluation.

If you’d like to schedule an oral cancer screening, call us at (949) 481-2540 or book online today. We will perform a visual and manual exam to look for any potential lesions. Additionally, we will review your risk factors and make recommendations as needed.