Dentist can detect oral cancer early

Dec. 11, 2008 at 8:18 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Too often the diagnosis of oral, head and neck cancer is diagnosed late, but a visit to the dentist can detect cancer early, a U.S. researcher says.

Michael A. Siegel of the Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine says that the diagnostic tools currently available to prosthodontists -- the specialty of implant, esthetic and reconstructive dentistry -- ensure that patients are diagnosed at the earliest possible time.

The highest risk of developing oral cancer is in adults over 40 who use both tobacco and alcohol, however, these cancers can develop in anyone, Siegel says.

All dentists, including prosthodontists, are specifically trained to detect these tumors in an early stage. Only 28 percent of patients reported ever having had an oral cancer examination. Patients who have lost their teeth must be specifically counseled about returning for prescribed, regular recall examinations.

Several companies have marketed simple tests intended to aid the dentist in the early detection and diagnosis of oral lesions even before they turn into cancer; these tests are painless and relatively inexpensive, Siegel says.

Any sore, lump, or bump in the mouth that bleeds, is enlarging, or will not heal should be evaluated at the earliest possible time, Siegel suggests.

The article is published in the Journal of Prosthodontics.

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