One person every hour of every day dies of oral cancer in America. It has become the sixth leading cancer among men and is one of the few cancers in which the rate of detection is increasing among young adults. Most people are not aware of the potential risks, however, when detected early enough, the survival rate for oral cancer is very high.
At one time oral cancer was predominantly seen among smokers, however, increasingly, oral cancer is being seen in patients of all ages. Although smoking is still a leading factor, many other criteria such as age, family history, ethnicity and alcoholic consumption also play a role. Many experts have surmised that an increasing cause is exposure to the HPV virus, which is the primary precursor of cervical cancer. These various factors all point towards the need for better technology to assist in the early detection of this curable disease.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
The most common symptom of oral cancer is a sore in the mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal. Other signs and symptoms include
A lump or thickening in the cheek
A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
Difficulties in chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw
Many of these signs and symptoms may be caused by other cancers or by less serious problems as well.
Because oral cancer can spread quickly, early detection is important. Oral cancer can be detected early by combining a conventional oral screening exam with the use of a new breakthrough dental technology called VELscope.
A conventional oral screening exam includes looking inside your mouth for any lesions that might be visible to the naked eye and feeling your neck for any suspicious bumps.
The VELscope oral detection system utilizes a narrow band of safe, high-energy blue light and specialized filtering technology to help thoroughly evaluate the oral tissue for abnormal areas of concern, such as potentially cancerous lesions that may not be evident under white light.
The exam is quick and painless, and can be done during your regular dental check- up.
If a suspicious lesion is detected, dentists will use a small brush to gather cell samples of the suspicious area. The specimen is then sent to a lab for computer analysis. This oral brush biopsy procedure is simple, and can be done right in the dentist's chair. It results in very little or no pain or bleeding, and requires no topical or local anesthetic.
The extent of treatment for oral cancer depends on a number of factors. Among them are the location, size, type and extent of the tumor and stage of the disease. Your doctor also considers your age and general health. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of both. You also may receive chemotherapy, or treatment with anticancer drugs.
Please call a dentist for a complete oral cancer screening. Ask the dental office if they use the new breakthrough dental technology VELscope for more effective early oral cancer detection.