The Importance of Early Detection

We have good news about the progress against cancer. It is now easier than ever to detect oral cancer early, when the opportunity for a cure is great . Dr. Lori Holcomb and her staff at West Olive Dental have the skills and tools to ensure that early signs of cancer and pre-cancerous conditions are identified. We can together, fight and win the battle against oral cancer. Know the early signs and see us regularly.

You Should Know

  • Oral Cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth.
  • Oral Cancer most often occurs in those who use tobacco in any form.
  • Alcohol use combined with smoking greatly increases your risk of oral cancer.
  • Prolonged sun exposure increases your risk of lip cancer.
  • Oral Cancer is more likely to strike after age 40 and can occur in people who do not smoke or have other risk factors.
  • Other signs include:
    • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
    • A color change of the oral tissues
    • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
    • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
    • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.

Regular Dental Check-ups Are Important

At West Olive Dental we perform oral cancer screenings as part of your routine dental examination. We will evaluate the inside of your mouth and tongue and in some patients may notice sores or lesions you may or may not know you have. Harmful oral lesions often look identical to those that are harmless, but testing can tell them apart. We can assess your lesion using a dye test, which is quick and painless.  If your lesion tests positive to the dye, we will either refer you to a specialist or have you return to our office for a follow up check.

Prevention and Detection

  • The best way to prevent oral cancer is to avoid tobacco and alcohol use.
  • Regular dental check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.
  • Many types of abnormal cells can develop in the oral cavity in the form of red or white spots. Some are harmless and benign, some are cancerous and others are pre-cancerous, meaning they can develop into cancer if not detected early and removed. (American Cancer Society)
  • Finding and removing epithelial dysplasias before they become cancer can be one of the most effective methods for reducing the incidence of cancer.
  • Knowing the risk factors and seeing your dentist for oral cancer screenings can help prevent this deadly disease. Routine use of the Pap smear since 1955, for example, dramatically reduced the incidence and mortality rates for cervical cancer in the United States.
  • Oral cancer is often preceded by the presence of clinically identifiable premalignant changes. These lesions may present as either white or red patches or spots. Identifying white and red spots that show dysplasia and removing them before they become cancer is an effective method for reducing the incidence and mortality of cancer.