Chances are you don’t have oral cancer – but wouldn’t it be nice to be sure?
1. Oral Cancer – What every person should know
- The incidence of oral cancer is growing
- Oral cancer has 3 times as many victims as cervical cancer
- The biggest growth in oral cancer is among non-smokers
- Oral cancer is discovered in late stages about 70% of the time, when it is so advanced that the survival rate is low
- When discovered early, the survival rate is very high
2. Who should be screened?
Oral cancer has traditionally been associated with tobacco usage, and the majority of oral cancer victims smoke or use chewing tobacco, consume alcohol, and are over 40. But the group experiencing the highest growth rate of oral cancer is younger people who don’t use tobacco or abuse alcohol. The cause appears to be the human papilloma virus (HPV) that can be contracted during sexual intercourse and especially oral sex. If you are sexually active, you are at risk. As a result, health care experts recommend annual oral cancer screenings for all adults 18 and older. If you smoke or use chewing tobacco, screenings are recommended every 6 months.
3. VELscope Oral Cancer Screening System
How does it work?
Along with our conventional oral screening exam, which includes looking inside your mouth for any lesions that might be visible to the naked eye and feeling your neck for any bumps, we use the VELscope to literally see beneath the surface to detect potentially dangerous growths we might have otherwise missed.
The VELscope shines a safe blue light into the mouth. Abnormal tissue is visualized as an irregular dark area that stands out against otherwise normal surrounding tissue. The exam takes only a few minutes as part of a regular hygiene check-up, involves no pain or inconvenience, and is completely safe.
4. What if we find something?
In most cases, the VELscope exam will indicate that there is nothing to worry about. However, a suspicious looking area could be revealed. Most are of little or no concern, and could be caused by chewing the inside of your cheek or a simple irritation. If necessary, we may ask you to come back in a few weeks so that we may take another look.
In the unlikely event that the area has not improved, we will recommend further examination, which may include a brush biopsy. A brush biopsy is a painless surface scraping of the area that is sent to an oral pathologist for examination.
Fortunately, the survival rate for oral cancer discovered at early stages is extremely high. That is why it is so important that everyone has an oral cancer screening once a year, or twice a year if you smoke or chew tobacco. It is why we have invested in this new technology. Please call for your screening today.