The Oral Cancer Series Part III: Oral Screening - The How’s and Why’s
Screenings are vital to catching oral cancer in the early stages. As we have mentioned before, the most common reason for a fatality attributed to oral cancer is a late diagnosis. It is imperative to get an oral cancer screening at least once a year; especially if you willingly partake in the controllable risk factors we presented to you in last week’s post. Oral cancer screenings are routine for your dentist. They have been trained to spot even the slightest symptoms. Screenings begin with a visual inspection of your mouth. Your dentist will look at the tissue on your inner cheeks, under your tongue and the sides of your tongue. He will feel around your jaw and look for any hard lumps that could signal a tumor. If your dentist spots leukoplakia (an abnormal white patch of cells) or erythroplakia (an abnormal red patch of cells), your dentist will be able to use tests to further investigate if the cells are, or could be, cancer. Below is a short summary of the 4 most commonly used tests. 1) Toluidine blue stain:The lesions in the mouth are coated with a blue dye. Areas that stain darker are more likely to be cancer or become cancer. 2) Fluorescence staining:The lesions in the mouth are viewed using a special light. After the patient uses a fluorescent mouth rinse, normal tissue looks different from abnormal tissue when seen under the light. 3) Exfoliative cytology: A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the lips, tongue, mouth, or throat. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal. 4) Brush biopsy:Cells are removed using a brush that is designed to collect cells from all layers of a lesion. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal. The earlier your dentist finds cancerous cells, the less chance the cancer will spread to other parts of your body. Be proactive when it comes to your health. You will be glad you did! Click here for the last post in The Oral Cancer Series. "National Cancer Institute." Oral Cancer Screening (PDQÂ®) -. Web. 05 Apr. 2012. .