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Oral cancer screening in Sacramento, CA - because early detection is essential

Oral cancer screening in Sacramento Anyone can get oral cancer - male or female, all ethnicities and lifestyles - even children. Nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it this year, and sadly, only 57 percent will be alive in five years. However, the survival rate has improved over the last decade, largely due to improvements and awareness in the benefits of early oral cancer detection. Dr. Kosta Adams and Dr. Kristen Adams take this responsibility to their patients seriously. They now provide the latest oral cancer screening instrumentation at Adams Dental Associates in Sacramento, CA.

Cause of oral cancer

In general terms, cancer occurs when altered DNA causes cells to divide and multiply out of control forming tumors or diseased, abnormal tissues. While cancer is not contagious (you can’t “catch it” from someone else or spread it to others), some types invade nearby organs and nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system and blood.

There are two basic categories of oral cancer. The first includes lesions that occur in the oral cavity on:
  • Lips
  • Cheeks
  • Teeth
  • Gums
  • Front portion of tongue
  • Floor of the mouth
  • Roof of the mouth

The second category is oropharyngeal, with lesions occurring at the base of the tongue or middle portion of the throat (including tonsils). Risk factors for oral cancer Some people have a hereditary predisposition to oral cancer, as it tends to run in families. Other risk factors include:
  • Tobacco - Studies have documented a clear causal connection between chemicals in cigarette smoke and oral cancer, with risk increasing based on number of cigarettes consumed daily and years of smoking. Cigars and pipes also carry increased risk of oral cancer. Risks is increased 50-fold for long-term snuff or chew users since smokeless tobacco holds carcinogens against delicate mucosal tissues for extended periods of time.
  • Alcohol - All alcoholic beverages increase risk of developing oral cancer, but beer and hard liquor rank higher than wine. Again, excessive consumption is a big factor, as is smoking and drinking combined. While there is some concern about regular use of mouth rinse with high alcohol content, the connection to oral cancer risk is not substantiated (probably because the product remains in the mouth only briefly).
  • Diet - Low beta-carotene intake is related to oral cancer risk. It results from a diet that lacks fruits and vegetables. Deficient amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, and fiber are also factors.
  • Sun exposure - Fair-skinned individuals who spend time outdoors without sun protection are prone to cancers at the vermilion border of lips.
  • HPV - Some forms of the human papillomavirus inhibit the normal cycles of other cells, contributing to mutation of DNA that leads to oral cancer.
  • Age - Most oral cancer diagnoses are in people aged 40 or older.

Signs and symptoms

Modern dentistry plays an important role in your efforts to prevent mouth cancer. Routine checkups give your dentist a chance to screen for abnormalities, and to confirm an oral cancer diagnosis through biopsy or other methods, if appropriate.

Between dental visits, though, you must remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of oral cancer:
  • Denture fit changes or becomes uncomfortable.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw normally.
  • Slurred speech or problems saying some words.
  • Lesion in the mouth or on the lips that looks red or whitish.
  • Persistent sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Scratchiness or the feeling that something is stuck in your throat.
  • Sore spot, lump, swollen area, or thick patch of tissue anywhere in the vicinity of the mouth.
  • Teeth that feel loose without an obvious dental cause.
  • Tenderness, pain, or numbness in or near the mouth, including the tongue.

If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your physician or dentist right away. Do NOT wait longer than a month for symptoms to resolve - get a definitive diagnosis promptly.

Oral cancer treatment options

If the dentist discovers abnormal oral tissues, a biopsy is performed for accurate diagnosis. A biopsy is a small tissue sample analyzed under a microscope. Findings are shared with your physician or referred oncologist. As with other cancers, treatment is usually a personalized protocol of surgical excision, lymph node dissection, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and reconstructive surgery. Be assured that your dentist remains part of the treatment team, helping you achieve the best possible outcome.

Hi-tech oral cancer screening from Sacramento, CA dentists

A diagnosis of oral cancer is serious and unsettling. Yet the long-term prognosis is good with early detection. In the past, a standard screening consisted of visual and tactile examination of the head, neck, face, and mouth. Advanced oral cancer screening as part of your regular dental checkups can identify tissue abnormalities long before they can be seen or felt - when they are at Stage 0 or Stage I for optimal outcome.

At Adams Dental Associates, Dr. Kosta and Dr. Kristen Adams use the Carestream CS 9300 3D digital imaging system for oral cancer screening. The CBCT (cone beam computed tomography) device is cleared by the FDA for dental applications. It provides high-resolution, three-dimensional, panoramic images that reveal potential cancers long before symptoms become noticeable.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most prevalent oral type, constituting about 95 percent of all mouth cancers. Standard radiographs (digital x-rays) are not helpful in identifying or assessing soft tissue lesions. Computed tomography as a CT scan for oral cancer creates a three-dimensional model from multiple layered x-ray images. It is the most effective tool presently available for detecting oral cancers. This technique also evaluates infiltration of cancer into bone, lymph nodes, and adjacent tissues. The scan is painless, with minimal patient exposure to radiation.

At Adams Dental Associates, your oral health and overall wellbeing are our top priority. Investment in the Carestream imaging system and training for our team is just one illustration of this commitment. We are here to help you lead a happier, better life through dedicated dentistry. Call our Sacramento, CA office at 916-999-1302 to schedule a cleaning and examination that includes advanced oral cancer screening.
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