Oral cancer is on the rise. The spread of HPV is one of the reasons that both men and women are experiencing higher rates of oral cancer, but this cancer can be extremely treatable. As with many cancers, early detection dramatically increases the likelihood of successful recovery. The most recent estimates for oral and oropharyngeal cancers are that about 48,330 people were diagnosed in 2016, and about 9,570 died from that cancer. By scheduling regular dental exams and receiving oral cancer screenings, you can avoid becoming a part of this statistic.
Tompkins Dental now offers routine screenings with the VELscope Vx. This handheld screening device allows for comfortable and efficient oral cancer detection. It can be performed at your next appointment to screen for potentially cancerous tissues.
Oral Cancer High Risk Categories
Know whether you’re at a heightened risk for oral cancer so that you can take precautions and receive screenings on a schedule. Some of the common risk categories include:
- Gender – Oral cancer is more than twice as common in men than in women. This may be related to the higher use of alcohol and tobacco.
- Age – The average age of patients when diagnosed is 62.
- Sun exposure – Cancers of the lip are more common among those who work outside or have other reasons for prolonged sun exposure.
- Poor nutrition – Research has found a link between diets low in fresh fruit and vegetables and increased oral cancer risk.
- Genetic factors – Some genetic mutations lead to a higher oral cancer risk.
- Tobacco use – 80% of people with oral and oropharyngeal cancers use some form of tobacco. The likelihood of cancer is dependent on the length and frequency of tobacco use.
- Alcohol consumption – 70% of people with oral cancer drink heavily. The overall risk is higher for those who both smoke and drink.
Why Your Dentist Is the First to Notice Oral Cancer
Oral cancer forms on the
- Tonsils and oropharynx
- Floor of the mouth
- Other parts of the mouth
- The lips
- The salivary glands
These are all areas that your dentist is the first medical professional to examine, during your routine appointments. While oral cancer screenings used to be primarily visual, new technology makes cancerous tissues easier to recognize. Many forms of oral cancer can develop without easily identifiable symptoms. Patients often do not experience pain or swelling, and the cancer develops in areas that are difficult to self-examine.
Benefits of the VELscope Vx
The VELscope uses fluorescent light to induce tissue fluorescence. Depending on the appearance of oral tissues, your dentist will be able to tell whether they might be cancerous. This allows for speedy evaluation and indication that a biopsy may be necessary.
The VELscope functions by simply passing light over your oral tissues. There’s no need for gels, powders, or physical prodding – the power of light helps put any cancer concerns at ease.
Early detection of oral cancer is incredibly important. It dictates how simple treatment may be, and how likely it is that the patient will fully recover. If you fit into any of the risk categories, schedule your next dental exam today to learn more.