THE ORAL CANCER EXAMINATION

One area of heightened concern for older patients is oral cancer.  The risk for this disease increases with age, with over 95% of oral cancers occurring in individuals of 45 years of age or older.

So, it is especially important that elderly patients regularly receive an oral examination that includes three essential factors:

  • Medical History :  In order to better identify developing conditions that may increase the risk of disease, as well as to discern the causes of these changes, a review of the patient’s medical and dental history is imperative.  These records can offer important information for evaluating current and developing conditions.
  • Visual Assessment : During regular visits to the doctor or dentist, patients should receive a visual assessment of the head, neck, and mouth.  By slightly drying surfaces inside the mouth and using a bright light, even the slight changes which may indicate developing disease may be recognized.
  • Palpation :  As a part of a cancer screening, doctors or dentists should also use manual palpation around the lymph nodes in the neck.  These can be helpful to identify potential sites of concern even when a lesion is not easily visible.  Lymph nodes are one of the most important indicators in a patient with oral cancer, so regular examination for abnormality is a must.