Oral Cancer – Houston, TX

Protect Your Smile & Your Life with Preventive Screenings

Oral cancer probably isn't something you think about very often -- but if you knew the facts surrounding this disease, you might. For starters, it's not rare. Approximately 132 new individuals are diagnosed with oral cancer every day in the United States alone, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. The group estimates that one person dies per hour due to oral cancer in our country -- each and every day.

Visiting a dentist or specialist for routine screenings can improve the chances that, if you do have oral cancer, you will receive an early diagnosis and have a much higher chance of successful treatment. Talk to our team at Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to find out how frequently you should get an oral cancer screening based on your specific risk of this disease. We are happy to provide screenings, diagnosis, and treatment of oral cancer in Houston, TX at Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!

Why Choose Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery For Oral Cancer Screenings?

  • Team of Specialists with Advanced Training & Years of Experience
  • Oral Cancer Screenings & Treatments Performed In-Office
  • Both Dental & Medical Insurance Welcome

What Is Oral Cancer?

Houston oral surgeon holding ribbon representing oral cancer in Houston

Like other cancers, oral cancer is an uncontrollable growth of cells that spreads and damages the surrounding tissues. It can be found in the mouth and the surrounding structures, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard or soft palate, sinuses, and throat. Oral cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world, and it can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. However, the five-year survival rates for oral cancer are extremely high when detected in its earliest stages, which is easy to do with regular dental checkups.

Who Is At Risk of Getting Oral Cancer?

Closeup of woman with cigarette and a high risk of oral cancer in Houston

While oral cancer can affect people of any age and gender, there are certain risk factors which can dramatically increase the odds that you will develop this disease. If one or more of the following are true about you, you may need to undergo more frequent oral cancer screenings from your Houston oral surgeon.

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Frequent and prolonged UV exposure
  • History of human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • A family history of cancer/oral cancer
  • Older age

The Odds of Getting Oral Cancer

Closeup of patient during oral cancer screening in Houston

Rates of oral cancer are on the rise in the United States and around the world. More adults are getting oral cancer, and it is affecting people at a younger age than ever before. Making yourself aware of the odds of getting this disease can help encourage you to seek routine screenings which aid in early detection and successful treatment. Keep reading to learn more about your risk, so you know your odds of getting oral cancer in Houston, TX at Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.  

Oral Cancer Statistics

Dentist explaining the odds of getting oral cancer in Houston

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 51,000 people will get oral cancer in a given year. Of these cases, over 10,000 will die. That is because the disease is often not detected until its latest stages -- when successful treatment is unlikely.

According to your Houston oral surgeons, other statistics surrounding oral cancer include:

  • Men are twice as likely to get oral cancer compared to women
  • Oral cancer is growing more common due to the increase in HPV
  • The average age for developing oral cancer is dropping
  • One-quarter of oral cancer cases are in patients under the age of 55
  • Early detection of oral cancer can dramatically improve 5-year survival rates

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Closeup of mouth with symptoms of oral cancer in Houston

Experts report that the high death toll associated with oral cancer isn’t because the disease is particularly deadly, but because it often goes undetected for too long. During your routine dental checkups, your dentists will always check for the most common warning signs of oral cancer to help catch it as early as possible. Between your biannual visits, keep an eye out for these common warning signs of oral cancer:

  • Lesions or sores that do not heal after two weeks
  • Discolored areas (white, pink, red) in the mouth
  • Lumps or bumps in or around the mouth
  • Rough patches
  • Asymmetries in the face or mouth
  • A change in the tone of voice
  • Any other irregularities in the mouth

How Oral Cancer Impacts Your Life

Houston oral surgeon performing oral cancer screening in Houston

As your Houston oral surgeons, we’re deeply concerned about the prevalence of oral cancer. Tens of thousands of individuals are diagnosed with this serious condition each year. Anyone, regardless of their age or habits, could develop this devastating disease. But just how devastating is it? Oral cancer can have consequences for every aspect of a patient’s life, and typically, the longer treatment is delayed, the more severe those consequences are. Keep reading to learn more about the consequences of oral cancer from your Houston, TX oral surgeons.

Impact on Dental Health

Woman holding paper frown in front of her to symbolize oral cancer in Houston

Depending on where the cancer is located, surgery to correct the problem may affect the way oral structures operate. For example, the jawbone, salivary glands, lips, and gums may all be affected. The earlier an oral cancer patient receives treatment from a skilled Houston oral surgeon, the less chance the disease has to spread. Therefore, early treatment is key in making the surgery as minimally invasive as possible.

Chemotherapy, another common cancer treatment, can also have side effects on dental health. It may lead to dry mouth, painful teeth and gums, a burning or peeling sensation on the tongue, and an increased risk for oral infection. A dentist may be able to provide advice and treatment to help prevent some of these side effects.

Impact on Speech

Businessman with oral cancer in Houston covering his mouth

Some types of oral cancer, particularly those that affect the tongue, soft palate, or lips, can make it difficult for patients to enunciate their words clearly after an oral surgeon in Houston performs a procedure to remove the cancerous area. In many cases, speech troubles become less severe after a person has healed from their surgery and the swelling has subsided. However, language therapy, which can last several months, is sometimes necessary to help patients regain their ability to clearly form words.

Impact on Overall Health

Older woman with hand over heart worries about oral cancer in Houston

In a best-case scenario, oral cancer stays where it first forms, and doctors can remove it before it spreads to neighboring systems. However, neglecting screening for oral cancer or delaying treatment gives the disease the opportunity to affect the nearby lymph nodes or other organs. Cancer that has spread may cause extreme fatigue, chest pain, decreased organ function, and more.

The survival rate for oral cancer is also much lower in instances where the disease has spread beyond the mouth. In cases where it affects distant organs, the five-year survival rate is only 39 percent.

Oral Cancer Screenings & Treatment

Dentist with technology to detect oral cancer in Houston

Studies show that the earlier oral cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it can be successfully treated. That’s why at Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we recommend getting an oral cancer screening at least once a year. It is a quick procedure that doesn’t cause any pain or require anything on your end. Simply be prepared to discuss your oral and overall health and any changes you may have noticed in your mouth lately. After this brief but thorough discussion, Dr. Koo or Dr. Weil will perform a visual and tactile examination of your mouth and oral structures. Although oral cancer screenings are quick and simple, they can potentially save your life!

The Benefits of Routine Oral Cancer Screenings

Closeup of patient getting an oral cancer screening in Houston

Early detection of oral cancer can increase the likelihood of successful treatment by up to 5 times! That alone makes getting routine screenings for this disease an absolutely logical thing to do. However, there are plenty of other benefits oral cancer screenings offer as well, including:

  • Oral cancer screenings are non-invasive and potentially life-saving
  • Some dental insurance plans cover oral cancer screenings
  • You don’t have to do or wear anything special to undergo an oral cancer screening
  • The exam can be completed at the end of a routine appointment
  • Biopsies can be tested immediately or after 2 weeks, depending on the severity
  • Getting regularly screened can decrease the cost of oral cancer treatment when the disease is detected early

What Happens If Any Signs of Oral Cancer Are Detected?

Woman gives thumbs up before oral cancer treatment in Houston

We’ll perform a quick oral cancer screening every time you come to see us, and if a suspicious area is detected, we will discuss your next steps in the very same appointment. Persistent lesions should be biopsied right away for a proper diagnosis. For other, less serious warning signs, we may recommend you come back in a couple of weeks to see if the area has healed or changed.

If you ultimately end up needing a growth removed from your mouth, our team is more than qualified to handle the procedure. For particularly large cancers, we can reconstruct the jawbone as well to help a patient maintain their normal appearance and function. No matter what you need, you can feel confident knowing you have a capable team of experts on your side.

How Often Should You Be Screened for Oral Cancer?

Houston oral surgeon performing oral cancer screening in Houston

Most adults should have an oral cancer screening at least annually. This is the best way to ensure that if oral cancer does develop, it can be detected and treated early. Patients who are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer, including smokers/tobacco users, people with a family history of oral cancer, and those who have had HPV or oral cancer before, may need to have more frequent screenings from the oral surgeons in Houston. If you have never had an oral cancer screening or if it’s been a while since you were last tested, we highly recommend that you contact us here at Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to book an appointment.

How to Protect Yourself From Oral Cancer

Calendar with dentist circled to help prevent oral caner in Houston

We hope that you never have to fight oral cancer. You can reduce your chances of developing this disease if you avoid tobacco products, do not overconsume alcohol, eat a healthy diet, and always use proper sun protection.

If you ever notice any suspicious areas in your mouth, or your dentist performs a screening and suggests that you get a biopsy, take prompt action! The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can visit a team of oral surgeons in Houston to get treatment underway. Then, you can get on the road to recovery, and hopefully, suffer minimal consequences to your quality of life.

How Much Do Oral Cancer Screenings Cost?

Piggy bank and model teeth representing the cost of oral cancer screenings

The cost of an oral cancer screening depends on many different factors. For instance, some dental insurance policies cover preventive care like oral cancer screenings at 90-100%. However, if you don’t have dental insurance or adequate coverage, oral cancer screenings are still usually very affordable given their value. Talk to your Houston oral surgeons about what you can expect to pay. Without any insurance, an oral cancer screening will typically cost much less than $100, usually ranging between $40 and $70. That price is well worth it for protection against the disease that claims the life of one person per hour in the United States.