Oral Cancer Screening
The dental community is the first line of defense in early detection of oral cancer. The goal of oral cancer screening is to detect mouth cancer or precancerous lesions that may lead to mouth cancer at an early stage — when cancer or lesions are easiest to remove and most likely to be cured. When found at the early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80-90% survival rate. Early detection is imperative!
Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, among others
- Heavy alcohol use
- Previous oral cancer diagnosis
- History of significant sun exposure, which increases the risk of lip cancer
Some symptoms of oral cancer include:
- White and/or red patches inside the mouth
- Abnormal lumps or thickening of the skin or mouth lining
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Because early detection is so critical, the dental team here at Mulberry Creek Dental Care utilizes the VELscope, a powerful, non-invasive, light-based device specifically used to screen for oral cancer by identifying mucosal abnormalities and premalignant changes. Unlike other screening devices, the VELscope does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. In fact, VELscope examinations can be done in our office during routine hygiene exams, and under normal lighting conditions, in about two minutes.
Oral cancer screening through VELscope helps our dentist:
- Identify cancer at an early stage, improving the survival rate by almost 50%
- Identify oral cancers that are not readily visible
- Inspect any abnormal changes in other parts of the mouth, such as the tongue
Ask your dentist at Mulberry Creek Dental Care whether oral cancer screening is appropriate for you. Also ask about ways you can reduce your risk of oral cancer, such as quitting smoking and not drinking alcohol.