Drs. John M. Pinnix IV and George A. Betancourt offer routine oral cancer screenings at their Charlotte, NC, practice as part of every biannual exam. The prognosis for oral cancer is best when it is detected in the early stages, which is why we provide regular screenings for our patients using advanced technology. If you want to undergo an oral cancer screening, or if you need to establish ongoing care with an experienced dentist, contact us today.
Why Early Diagnosis Matters
Oral cancer symptoms are not obvious in the early stages. By the time they become noticeable, the disease has usually reached later stages and may have spread to other parts of the body, making it much more difficult to treat. When any form of cancer is detected in the early stages, the patient stands a much greater chance of successful treatment.
Risks and Symptoms
You may be at a greater risk of developing oral cancer if you:
- Are male
- Are over 50
- Use tobacco in any form (including cigarettes, cigars, snuff, or chewing tobacco)
- Consume excessive amounts of alcohol
- Have a family history of oral cancer
- Were exposed to excessive amounts of sunlight at a young age
- Are infected with HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Were previously diagnosed with oral cancer
However, at least 25 percent of patients diagnosed with oral cancer carry none of these risk factors, while many who do never develop cancer.
Oral cancer symptoms include:
- Red or white lesions, spots, or patches
- Unexplained bleeding
- Painless lumps or abnormally thick lining in the mouth or skin
- Hoarse throat or a voice change
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- Sensation of something caught in your throat
- Loose teeth
- Dramatic weight loss
Our Screening Procedure
The standard oral cancer screening focuses on visual and tactile inspection. Our dentists will look and feel for abnormal tissue, palpating your mouth, cheeks, jaw, lymph nodes, and neck.
To minimize the possibility of overlooking abnormalities, Drs. Pinnix and Betancourt incorporate Vizlite® technology into their routine screenings. Though not a replacement for the visual and oral exam, this supplemental system helps to identify and mark abnormal oral lesions that could otherwise go unnoticed.
Vizlite® technology is based in basic biology. Every cell contains a nucleus in which DNA is stored. However, when cells become cancerous, their nuclei start to take over most of the space inside. With a Vizlite® inspection, patients wash their mouths with an acetic acid rinse. Next, your dentist inspects your mouth with a special light. Any abnormal cells will appear to glow while normal tissue remains dark. The entire procedure takes less than five minutes and is easily incorporated into a regular checkup.
If any suspicious lesions are present, your dentist will order an oral biopsy. This painless test removes small samples of the abnormal tissue for more extensive examination under a microscope. Results are usually returned within a week.
Contact Us Today
Here at the Advanced Dentistry of Blakeney, our purpose is to enhance your quality of life and help you understand how to maintain oral health. For more information on oral cancer screenings and how they can help you, reach out today to schedule an appointment.