Cancer – one of the most terrifying words in the English language. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is life-changing, however, with a healthy lifestyle and routine medical examinations, many types of cancer can be diagnosed early, and in some cases, prevented altogether.
One type of cancer – oral cancer – is something that can be screened for during routine dental examinations. Oral cancer can affect any surface in the oral cavity, including lips, tongue, the inside of your cheek and the back of your throat. Often, oral cancer develops with no signs or symptoms until the disease has advanced beyond its early stages. Over 40,000 new oral cancer cases are projected to be diagnosed in 2015 alone. However, with the advent of new technology and increased awareness about the disease, more people are having oral cancer screenings at regular dental or medical visits than ever before, and early detection is the most critical factor in increasing ones chance for survival.
There are several factors that put a person at greater risk for developing oral cancer. At the top of the list is regular usage of alcohol and tobacco products. In fact, people who are heavy users of both have a 30 percent increased risk for developing oral cancer. Sexual contact associated with exposure to HPV, or human papillomavirus, has also been connected to oral cancer.
Initial warning signs of oral cancer include a sore spot or bump that bleeds easily, or changes in color or texture of the tissues in your mouth. Common areas for cancer to develop are the tongue and the floor of the mouth.
At Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C., we perform oral cancer screenings for our patients using a non-invasive device called VELscope. The VELscope technology takes advantage of your tissue’s natural fluorescence to detect abnormalities in the oral mucosa. The exam is quick, painless and easy. Not every case of oral cancer starts without early warning signs. Any lumps in the mouth, thickening of tissues, swelling, or a feeling of a lump in your throat should be checked by one of our doctors immediately. Come in or call for more information about our oral cancer screening procedures. As we all know, early detection saves lives!
Key words: Oral cancer, oral cancer screenings, VELscope, Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C., early detection
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