The American Cancer Society estimates that about 54,010 new patients will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancers, and approximately 10,850 patients will die from the disease in 2021. These statistics are sobering, but the good news is that regular oral cancer screenings can detect cancerous lesions at an early stage when they are easiest to treat, improving your chances of recovery.
Many dentists perform oral cancer screenings by first visually inspecting the mouth for any signs of cancerous lesions and then using gloved hands to feel for any suspicious spots that are not visible to the naked eye. While this is effective at catching tumors large enough to see or feel, it falls short of detecting abnormalities at an earlier stage.
Oral cancer can develop in anyone, which is why it is essential to have an oral cancer screening performed at least once per year. However, certain people are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer and may need more frequent screenings. Risk factors include:
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