According to the American Cancer Society, an estimate of 51,540 individuals will get oral cancer in the U.S. in 2017. Oral cancer is the collective term that describes the growth of abnormal cells in the oral cavity that includes the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, soft and hard palate, tonsils and also the pharynx. This condition is life threatening if not diagnosed and treated in its early stages.

People who are at risk for oral cancer are those who are smokers and excessive alcohol drinkers, those with familial history of cancer and those who have and are exposed to human papilloma virus (HPV). These individuals should undergo oral cancer screenings to check if they manifest early signs of the cancer.

In an oral cancer screening, the oral cavity is visually inspected and palpated to check for abnormal cell growth as evidenced by the presence of suspicious bumps or lesions. When these lesions are present, additional test could be done such as swabbing of the area or a scalpel biopsy is performed. The collected specimen is then sent to the laboratory for a definitive testing.

A dentist or a doctor can either perform oral cancer screenings. The main goal of these screenings is the early detection of oral cancer especially to those who are at risk. It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that people who are aged above 20 years old, oral cancer screenings should be done every three years and yearly to those who are aged above 40 years old.

Always remember that the earlier the detection, the higher the chances of a successful treatment.