Oral cancers include cancers of the lips, tongue, jaw, cheeks, upper and lower mouth tissue and throat. While not as often mentioned in the media, oral cancers are as common as Leukemia, and claim more lives than skin cancer. Until the last decade, the highest risk demographic for oral cancers were men aged 40 and up. Recently, the incidence of oral cancer in younger people both male and female has been on the rise. This can likely be attributed to lifestyle changes (including increased population of female tobacco users) and a link to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer:
During its early stages, oral cancers can include changes in tissue colour, the appearance of small canker-like soars or bites on the inside of the cheek, and are often painless. There are actually many benign (harmless) conditions that may appear similar to cancerous symptoms. That is why it is important to locate and examine abnormalities on the chance that they could be early warning signs of something serious.
Oral Cancer Screening:
As with most cancers, early detection and treatment improve the recovery and survival rates of those affected. If symptoms are discovered and treated early, oral cancer survival rates can be as high as 90%. Unfortunately, a contributing factor to the mortality rate of oral cancers is that it is often undetected until its late stages. An integral part of your dental exam at our office includes an oral cancer screening.
During this portion of your dental exam we will review your dental X-rays as well as look for any visible abnormalities in your mouth, including lesions, bleeding and discolouration. We will also feel for lumps or masses in your neck and around your mouth, cheek, tongue and soft tissue. As many early sign may be invisible to the unaided eye, we have incorporated a VELscope into our oral cancer screening exam.
Oral cancer and other abnormalities in your mouth are not always visible under normal lighting conditions (especially in their early stages). Our office has incorporated VELscope into our dental examinations. VELscope helps us to detect both pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions that may have otherwise gone undetected.
VELscope uses a blue light in combination with specialized filters to visually enhance the differences between normal and abnormal tissue in your mouth.
VELscope is non-invasive and only adds a few minutes to your dental examination. There is no need for dyes or mouth rinses and there is no discomfort. The light is created by LEDs and does not emit radiation, making it completely safe. Using VELscope we are able to see many tissue abnormalities both cancerous and non-cancerous during their early stages. If we notice anything that is cause for concern, we will suggest further diagnostic tests and proceed from there.
You should call us for an additional examination if you notice:
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