The prospect of cancer can be scary; sometimes it seems as though it's waiting to strike in almost every part of the body. Dentists are particularly concerned about oral cancer, which can develop on the gums, lips, tongue, or throat. Oral cancer can be disfiguring or deadly; the Oral Cancer Foundation reports that one death occurs every hour of every day. Fortunately, Dr. David Donnelly, your dentist in downtown San Diego, offers an easy and effective way to detect oral cancer through routine screenings. Read on to learn more about risk factors and why screenings are now part of regular checkups at Dr. Donnelly's practice.
Facts about oral cancer
Statistics continue to show that lifestyle choices are the main contributing factor in the development of oral cancer. People who habitually drink alcohol or use tobacco products - including cigarettes, snuff, and cigars - are at an increased risk for many different types of cancers, including oral cancer. Although oral cancer has historically affected people over the age of 50, infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) has also increased the risk for younger patients somewhat. That's why your downtown San Diego dentist performs oral cancer screenings for all adult patients.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer
Like many cancers, oral cancer often doesn't produce many symptoms until it's advanced. There may be a white or red patch of raised skin on the inside of the cheek or under the tongue; there may also be an ulcerated sore that does not heal. Difficulty swallowing or speaking, a new lump around the neck or jaw, or a persistent earache on one side warrants a trip to your downtown San Diego dentist for an oral cancer evaluation.
Oral cancer screenings
Early detection of oral cancer is paramount to successful treatment. By visiting your downtown San Diego dentist twice a year for a cleaning and check-up, you're also reducing your risk of oral cancer. Every visit will include an oral cancer screening, in which Dr. Donnelly carefully checks the soft tissues inside the mouth and the lymph nodes of the head and neck for changes. A special light may be used to illuminate changes on the surface of the cheek or gum tissue. If any areas of concern are noticed, you will immediately be scheduled for a follow-up.
To set up an appointment with Dr. David Donnelly in downtown San Diego, California, contact us at (619) 231-0822 today.