The American Cancer Society recommends a comprehensive oral evaluation and soft tissue exam annually, yet only one in five patients reports having an oral cancer exam in the last year.
Your prosthodontist is trained to perform a comprehensive evaluation of your mouth including the associated structures in the head and neck area. The initial evaluation begins with a detailed history followed by a physical examination of the head, neck, and oral cavity. Certain lifestyle choices and habits may affect your tendency to develop oral cancer. There is an increased risk for patients who use tobacco products, consume excessive amounts of alcohol, and are HPV positive. Certain symptoms such as changes in the overall appearance of your tongue or bleeding gums may cause concern, but these changes are rarely cancer.
Often bleeding gums are associated with poor oral hygiene and changes in your tongue’s appearance may be related to inflammation or infection. In some cases, systemic conditions such as vitamin deficiency may be the cause. Your prosthodontist can advise you and please remember an oral cancer exam is painless; treatment for advanced oral cancer is not.
The American College of Prosthodontists maintains a position statement on Oral Cancer Screening.