Oral Cancer Awareness Month

  • Posted on: Apr 16 2013
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Oral Cancer and Detecting It

Have you ever thought about Oral Cancer? Some may think this is a rare form of cancer, but 100 people will be diagnosed with some form of mouth cancer today. Last year alone,  37,000 people were diagnosed and every hour each day one person will die from it.  It is commonly called mouth cancer, tongue, tonsil or throat cancer.  Men get oral cancer twice as often as women and until Michael Douglas was diagnosed, it was not something people thought of. Yet, at every routine dental examination you have received an oral cancer screening. Isn’t that great? Early diagnosis and treatment greatly increases your chance of survival, so keeping to your routine visits is extremely important.

Oral cancer commonly involves the lips and the tongue. It can also be found on your cheek lining, gums, palate, larynx and under your tongue. Some symptoms of this form of cancer are:

–         a sore, lump or ulcer in the mouth

–         pain and difficulty swallowing

–         tongue problems

–         swollen lymph nodes in neck

–         chewing problems

–         a pale, dark or discolored area

–         fuzzy white patches on the sides of tongue or cheeks

Factors that increase the risk of oral cancer are:

–         smoking and other tobacco use

–         heavy alcohol use

–         chronic irritation from teeth, dentures or fillings

–         medications that weaken the immune system

–         Human Papilloma Virus

Different techniques are used to detect oral cancer. In the past we have checked thoroughly to determine if you are at risk.  Because so many people have been diagnosed, I have decided to add a device called the VELscope to help in our assessment. For an additional nominal fee, this hand held device can help our hygienists and I determine if you are at risk, along with our routine head and neck exams.  In just two minutes, The VELscope’s blue light allows us to see precancerous, as well as, oral cancer not yet visible to the naked eye. It’s simple, quick and painless.  By adding the VELscope to your visit we can detect lesions that, left untreated, may otherwise develop into oral cancer.

Routine dental hygiene visits are not only important for the care of your teeth and gums but to increase your overall health.  Our team, at Smiles 4 A Lifetime, wants to provide you with the latest technology and we are always continuing our education to increase our awareness of all levels of your health.  If you have any questions regarding this new device, please feel free to call the office.  We would be happy to discuss it with you.

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