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Columbia Periodontics

Oral Cancer & Screenings

Every year, over 8,000 Americans die from oral cancer. That is one person every hour of every day and night. Oral cancer is more deadly than breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. The reason for this large number of deaths is the lack of early diagnosis. By the time these cancers are detected and treated, only 40% of patients live 5 years.

Oral cancer can show up on the lips, tongue, gums, or other tissues inside of the mouth. Most commonly, it affects people who are over 40 and smoke cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, or who chew tobacco. People who use tobacco and heavily consume alcohol have an even greater risk.

Those who are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, are also at risk. Oral cancer associated with HPV is on the rise, now found in up to 50 percent of cases, with the base of the tongue being the most common site. This is where actor Michael Douglas's stage IV cancer was reportedly discovered.

Signs of oral cancer include:

  • A white or red patch on your gums, tongue, inside of your cheek, or inside or outside of your lips. It may be a lump, thick, or crusty area.
  • A mouth sore that does not heal or go away.
  • The sore may cause part of your mouth to feel numb.
  • The affected area may bleed easily.

Oral cancer can be prevented and is 95 percent curable if caught early. Some tips to help prevent oral cancer include:

  • Abstain from unprotected sex, including oral sex, to prevent HPV infection. 
  • Use alcohol in moderation. 
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco. 
  • Ask your dentist to screen you for oral cancer at least once a year if you are over 17 years old.

Oral Cancer Screening

To provide you with the best care possible, Columbia Periodontics offers the Trimira Indentafi 3000 Ultra device to perform oral cancer screenings. This advanced technology is the result of a 15-year government research project done with Rice University and MD Anderson Cancer Research Center in TX. This machine is the premier cancer screening device in the world, and we are proud to be able to bring this technology to our patients.

We will submit this procedure to your dental insurance company. However, most insurance companies do not pay for cutting-edge procedures like this. We are charging a minimal fee of $15.00 for the cancer screening, and we request that you pay for the procedure the day it is done. If your insurance pays, we will reimburse you. We screen all new patients at the first visit and all of our regular patients every two years.

If you have any concerns about oral cancer, talk to periodontist Dr. James Dickson today. The sooner, the better! For an appointment at our Columbia, TN periodontics office, call (931) 380-1101 today or use our online appointment request form.

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