Oral Cancer Screenings By Dr. John Goodman on September 20, 2012

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral Cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells in the mouth including the lips, tongue, cheeks, back of the throat.  If not caught and treated early on, oral cancer can quickly spread into the lymph nodes and throughout other areas in the body.  When any cancer metastasizes, it highly increases the risk for terminal illness.  The ADA (American Dental Association) predicts that 40,000 people will be diagnosed with Oral Cancer in 2012 and 8,000 people will die from it.  

Where To Receive An Oral Cancer Screening


An Oral Cancer Screening is a part of the routine exam during your six month check-up at your dentist or doctor's office.  Dr. Goodman and our friendly, but gentle hygienists thoroughly examine your entire mouth for any abnormal or atypical areas.  This examination consists of observing levels and health of the gums, the entire tongue, back of the throat, and the floor, roof, and sides of your mouth. 

Oral Cancer often appears as a white lesion, red patch, or a mouth sore that lasts more than two weeks.  Relative to Oral Cancer, Esophageal Cancer can also appear in the back of the throat causing a non-descriptive and recurring cough and sore throat usually with swelling and redness present.  Pain is often not associated until cancer has become more advanced. Therefore, it is important to attend your regular check-ups to ensure your dentist or doctor can monitor any areas of concern. 

Cost And Insurance Benefits

Generally, most dental insurance policies will cover two check-up and cleanings per year that include an oral cancer screening in the examination.  A full cleaning and examination can cost between $150-$300 without any insurance benefits.  It is important to learn and understand your dental insurance plan, policies, and fees so you are not surprised if there is a co-pay or charge due at your time of service.  Even if you have to foot the bill yourself, the cost of prevention is significantly minute to any cancer treatment options.  

Who Is At Risk For Oral Cancer?

Anyone is at risk for Oral Cancer and anyone can develop it.  However, Oral Cancer is commonly diagnosed more often with men than women and those over 50 have are held at a higher risk.  The risk is extremely high for people that smoke tobacco, cigarettes, cigars or use smokeless tobacco and for those that drink heavily.  Over excessive sun exposure especially at a young age leads to a high risk for developing Oral Cancer on the lips.  People who have developed HPV (human papillomavirus) are at a growing risk for developing oral cancers as well.  Those with a family history of cancer should also take special preventative measures.

Even if you don't qualify for any of the above factors, it does not mean you are not at risk for Oral Cancer.  About 1/4 of people diagnosed with Oral Cancer are non-smokers whom only drink occasionally.  Dr. Goodman encourages you to discuss your risks for developing Oral Cancer with your dentist or doctor. 


Questions To Ask Your Dentist

There are many preventive measures you can take to remain active against developing Oral Cancer.  The best thing you can do is attend your regular six month check-ups and routine examinations at your dentist and doctor.  Dr. Goodman and our friendly hygienists are nonjudgemental, striving to provide you with the best possible care.  Your dentist or hygienist are not at home with you and should feel at ease discussing anything in your lifestyle such as habits and regular routines that effect your oral health care.

  • What Are Your Risks For Oral Cancer? Although everyone is at risk, some are more than others.  Your dentist and hygienist should be able to compare aspects of your lifestyle that may increase or decrease your chances for developing Oral Cancer.
  • Do you have any areas of concern?  If you have any area or mouth soreness or lesion that is only on one side and has lasted more than two weeks, painful or not, you need to speak up. 
  • Is there anything you can do to lower your risk for Oral Cancer?  Your dentist and hygienist may have extra recommendations or alterations you can make lower your risks in the attempt to prevent Oral Cancer. 

If you would like to know more about Dr. Goodman's Oral Cancer Screenings, please call our friendly staff at 816-842-5335 or set up an appointment. Find out more valuable information about your oral health as well as our office by liking us on Facebook.

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John P. Goodman, DDS

John P. Goodman, DDS We Give Kansas City a Reason to Smile!

Dr. John Goodman has more than two decades of experience serving the community of Kansas City, MO. He offers a comprehensive range of services to address all types of dental problems, and he accepts CareCredit® financing to make treatment as accessible as possible. 

To request a consultation, please fill out our online form or call us at (816) 842-8585.

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