Oral cancer screening is an important test for older adults. Estimates show that more than 5,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and seniors are more at risk.
65% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will live past five years. That jumps to 85% with early diagnosis and treatment.
Seniors may have questions about oral cancer screenings because they are experiencing symptoms or because the test is suggested by a health care provider. Below are some common questions and answers for anyone that would like more information on the disease and the screening process.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer can refer to cancers occurring in the oral cavity (floor and roof of the mouth, teeth, gums, lips and cheeks, and the front of the tongue) as well as those occurring in the middle region of the throat and the back of the mouth.
Are there early signs of oral cancer?
If you experience any of the following symptoms or any noticeable changes to your mouth or teeth, have a dentist or physician complete a screening.
- Irritation that lasts for a long period of time
- Difficulty moving your mouth or jaw
- A lump or a thick patch of skin that doesn’t go away
- Tenderness or numbness
- Trouble swallowing or chewing
What does an oral cancer screening look like?
A typical screening will take less than 10 minutes and will involve a doctor or dentist looking at and feeling various parts of the mouth and jaw. Typically, the signs of oral cancer can be seen. If a health professional feels that a more thorough screening is required, they can ask the patient to rinse their mouth with dye to better highlight any potential patches, lumps or anomalies. A biopsy may be necessary if the doctor or dentist feels that there are cancerous cells that need to be tested.
What are treatment options for oral cancer?
Surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and medication can all be part of a treatment plan for oral cancer.
If someone suspects they may have oral cancer, or mentions any of the symptoms listed above, encourage them to visit their healthcare professional to schedule a screening.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
Oral health becomes more important as we get older, and the trusted care team at Comfort Keepers can help with scheduling and providing transportation for dentist appointments. Our caregivers can remind clients to take medication and support physician-prescribed exercise regimens and diets. Above all, our goal is to see that clients have the means to find the joy and happiness in each day, regardless of age or acuity.
To learn more about our in-home care services, contact your local Comfort Keepers location today.
Mayo Clinic. “Oral Cancer Screening.” Web. 2018.
WebMD. “How Your Dentist Helps Spot Oral Cancer.” Web.
Oral Cancer Foundation. “Health Promotion in Oral Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.” Web.
Cancer.net. “Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer.” Web. 2017
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013. Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society.