During a dental exam, the doctor will check your neck and oral tissues for lumps, red or white patches or recurring sore areas.
Screening for early changes in the oral tissue can help detect cancer at a stage when it can be more successfully treated.
Smoking, especially combined with heavy alcohol consumption (30 drinks a week or more), is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. In fact, this combination is estimated to be the most likely trigger in about 75 percent of oral cancers diagnosed in this country. Other lifestyle and environmental factors also may increase your risk of developing oral cancer.