Oral cancer screening in Calgary, AB could save your life
Your dentist plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy. Dr. Palka Sawhney Sharma recommends making oral cancer screening part of your checkups at Lake Chaparral Dental Care in Calgary, AB.
Importance of oral cancer screening for Calgary, AB patients
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 4,100 new oral cancer cases were diagnosed in 2013. The overall five-year survival rate is about 57 percent, but it improves to 83 percent when oral cancer is caught and treated early.
In the past, those over the age of 40 were more likely to develop oral cancer, since aging cells are prone to malignancies, and due to changes in the immune system. However, the fastest-growing segment of oral cancers is now in non-smokers under age 50. Anyone of any age – even a child – can develop an oral cancer.
Risk factors in addition to age
- Tobacco use. Damage to cell structure accumulates over time.
- Alcohol consumption, especially when combined with smoking. The risk for those who smoke and drink is about 15 times that of other people.
- Viral infections such as HPV16.
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation – sun and tanning beds.
- Poor diet, low in fruits and vegetables.
Oral cancers start small, so they are difficult to see when you brush and floss, or for others to notice when you speak. The appearance mimics many common conditions, and since oral cancers are not generally painful, a lesion or tumor is easy to ignore initially.
Dr. Palka Sawhney Sharma performs a thorough visual and manual evaluation of the head, neck, lips, tongue, soft tissues inside the mouth, and back of the throat. Then, a hand-held scope that illuminates tissues with a harmless blue light is used. Under this blue spectrum light, abnormal tissues fluoresce differently than healthy oral structures. This quick, painless test reveals abnormal tissues that are not visible to the naked eye.
With a healthy lifestyle, you may never have an oral cancer. However, regular screenings can promptly guide you to the medical care you need, if you ever do develop abnormal oral tissue.