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Oral Cancer Screening


Concerned woman inspecting herself in the mirrorOral cancer screening is provided to all of our patients at each of their routine dental exams. Oral cancer is a fairly common oral health disease, affecting about 53,000 Americans each year. Several studies have shown that earlier diagnosis and treatment correlates with a higher survival rate. So, it is important to have this test completed at each of your routine exams. It is a quick and simple procedure that only takes a few minutes to complete. Ask us about oral cancer screening at Joshua M. Ignatowicz DMD & Associates.

Basic Screening


The most basic oral cancer screening only takes a few minutes for our dentist to complete. You should discuss any changes in health or unusual symptoms with our dentist. During this screening, they will look for any lesions, swelling, asymmetry, paralysis, masses, or temporal wasting. They will look at your mouth as well as your face and neck during this exam. Oral cancer can affect many areas of the oral cavity, so it is important to examine everything thoroughly.

Follow-Up Testing


Once the exam is complete, our dentist will inform you if there were any concerns and recommend follow-up testing as needed. Some of these tests include staining, exfoliative cytology, and a brush biopsy.

Staining can be done with a blue dye (toluidine) or a fluorescent stain. With toluidine, tissues that are at risk of developing cancer will appear darker. With the fluorescent stain, abnormal tissue appears different than normal tissue under the use of a special light. Exfoliative cytology is the gentle collection of cells from the oral cavity or lips to view them under a microscope. The lab technician can identify abnormal cells at this stage. Brush biopsy is the use of a brush to collect cells from every layer of a mouth lesion. These cells are then viewed under a microscope in the same way that cells are viewed in exfoliative cytology.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors


Oral cancer does not discriminate and it can affect anyone at any age. That said, there are risk factors that you should be aware of so that you can do all you can to protect yourself. Some of these include older age, tobacco and alcohol usage, viral infections (ex. HPV), compromised immune system, and family history of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Treatment


There are several treatment options for oral cancer that we will discuss with you. Each of them has pros and cons, so we will help you decide which is the right choice for you. Some treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy.

Surgery can be done to remove cancerous tissues or tumors, as well as to reconstruct areas of the mouth and face that were damaged by the cancer. Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells directly and is often used following surgery. Chemotherapy is similar, but it uses chemicals rather than energy beams to kill cancer cells. Targeted drug therapy manipulates cancer cells to stunt their growth. Immunotherapy boosts your immune system to help you fight the disease naturally. These are not mutually exclusive treatments. Contact Joshua M. Ignatowicz DMD & Associates at 725-257-2220 for more information.
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