An important part of your regular checkup is to have an examination for oral cancer. This is a quick and easy check that is completely pain-free, but it’s absolutely vital. During this examination Dr. Penchas or another of our dentists will examine your oral tissues very carefully. This is to
This is an oral screening light that utilizes fluorescence technology to identify any early signs that could indicate cancer or precancerous conditions. It’s completely noninvasive, and could even save your life. It’s simply a visual check during which time your dentist will gently move your tongue to examine all the surfaces, and they might gently manipulate your neck to feel the lymph nodes. If anything out of the ordinary is detected then a small biopsy can be taken using a tiny brush that collects a few cells for examination.
Statistics Show Early Diagnosis is Key
Statistics from the Oral Cancer Foundation show this disease kills one American each hour. In 2013 approximately 42,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States, but shockingly 18,000 will not be alive in just five years’ time. Even worse, incidences of oral cancer have increased in the last five consecutive years. One of the huge problems with oral cancer is that it’s often diagnosed too late to be treated effectively, and as a result five-year survival rates are only 50%. Regular screening can help ensure this disease is picked up much earlier when it’s far easier to treat, and treatment can be much more successful.
Who is at Risk of Oral Cancer?
This disease could affect anyone, which is why it is important to have regular screenings. Some people are more at risk, including those who use alcohol to excess, those who smoke or who have a poor diet. It is also increasingly being linked with the human papilloma virus (HPV), and an estimated three quarters of the population will be infected with HPV at some point during their lifetime. Even if you think you don’t fall into any of these categories then it’s important to remember that around a quarter of all oral cancers occur in people with no known risk factors.
In between oral screenings you can help yourself by checking the inside of your mouth once a month and becoming more aware of how healthy oral tissue should look. One of the major symptoms to look out for is ulcers that fail to heal within a reasonable timeframe of a couple of weeks or so. If you have any mouth sores you’re unsure about but it’s always best to seek professional dental advice and to stay safe rather than sorry.