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Screening for mouth cancer is something that’s done by your dentist, which can help them to spot any signs of either cancer or pre-cancer in your mouth. A dentist is the ideal person to do this, as they are incredibly familiar with healthy mouths, and will be able to look out for any abnormalities that might occur.

Why is mouth cancer screening done?

Like with any kind of cancer, catching it early gives patients a much better chance of being completely cured of the disease. If you spot the symptoms early enough, it is more likely that cancer will be able to be treated, and the treatments may be less severe or less invasive than if the cancer was more advanced.

When is the screening carried out?

Most of the time, your dentist will be able to examine your mouth to spot signs of cancer during your routine check-up. This means that it is always vital that you attend these check-ups, to make sure that you’re getting the attention that you need. If your dentist spots that anything might be an issue, they are likely to recommend further tests.

Although this screening is usually carried out at a routine appointment, you always have the option of booking a specific appointment for this if there are any concerns that you have about the health of your mouth at the moment.

Who is at risk of mouth cancer?

Most cancers have specific groups of people who are more at risk than others, and there are lots of factors which might contribute to the development of mouth cancer. The risk factors that are most commonly observed are as follows:

  • Using tobacco of any kind. This is more of a problem if you are a long-term smoker, however, there is also evidence to suggest that even ex-smokers who haven’t smoked for a long time still have a higher risk of developing the condition
  • Drinking heavy alcohol. There are also certain kinds of alcohol that can cause more of a problem, and mouth cancer is observed more in people who are – or have previously been – heavy spirit drinkers
  • Having a previous diagnosis of oral cancer means that you are more likely to have similar issues in the future
  • Being exposed to the sun on a regular basis. This can mean that your lips are damaged, and you are therefore more likely to develop lip cancer, which can also be spotted by your dentist during the screening process
  • Having the HPV virus. This virus is linked to a number of different cancers, and it has been found that individuals who have had this virus are more likely to develop mouth cancer

What happens if my dentist finds something?

If something is found during screening, it is likely that either a follow-up visit or a biopsy will be recommended. If your dentist is not sure about what they have found, they may invite you for a follow-up appointment, to take a look and see if the abnormality is still there, and if anything has changed.

On the other hand, if they have reasonable cause to believe that mouth cancer is present, they may recommend a biopsy. This can sometimes be done in the surgery, or you may need to go to see a doctor to have this done.

The main thing to remember is that even if something is found, as long as you’ve been attending your regular appointments, it is not likely to be advanced. Catching cancer at an early stage is incredibly important, as it gives you the very best chance of recovery and a normal life in the long term.

Call on 020 7485 3711 to find out how our team can help you improve your smile.

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