Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer Screening

In the United States this year, approximately 53,000 people will get oral or throat cancer.  Almost 11,000 will die of that cancer. We take our role in detecting these cancers early very seriously, visually checking our patients at each appointment. We also offer enhanced early detection methods.

As part of your dental checkup appointment we routinely perform a visual oral cancer screening. Yes, that is what we are doing when we are pulling on your tongue. We are carefully looking for areas that do not look right. We are looking for areas that are different in color, shape and texture than what they normally would be. You can help on your own by being aware of spots in your mouth that do not heal or get sores repeatedly. Any sore in your mouth should heal in 1-2 weeks. Anything that doesn’t is worth us looking at soon.

We offer an enhanced oral cancer screening that involves rinsing with a special solution for 60 seconds then looking with a distinct light which will reflect differently off of changing areas than normal areas. This way we can catch some oral cancers before they would otherwise be apparent to the naked eye.
If we find abnormal areas we most commonly test them with what is known as a brush biopsy, a painless biopsy where we rub cells off of the abnormal area using a brush and transfer those cells to a microscope slide. This is then sent to a lab that uses special computers to look at the cells. These computers can find a few bad cells in hundreds of thousands of cells and do so more predictably than the human eye.

If bad cells are found, a pathologist also looks at the slide and contacts us to develop a treatment plan.

The sooner you can detect and treat oral cancer the better your chance of survival. We are looking for areas that are different in color, shape and texture than what they normally would be. Oral cancer is best survived when it is caught and treated early. If not detected within 5 years, there is only a slightly better than a 50% chance of survival.
The risk factors for oral cancer are age, alcohol and tobacco use. The prevalence of smoking in the United States has been decreasing, which you would think would lead to a decrease in oral cancer. But, new forms of oral cancer related to the human papilloma virus (HPV) are on the increase. HPV related cancers are more prevalent in younger people. Again, early detection is vital. If you believe you could be at risk, call us today.
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Don't Put Off Your Oral Health Any Longer!

Oral cancer is as prevalent as it has ever been. Contact us today to schedule an oral cancer screening with your routine checkup.
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