Oral Cancer Screening
One person dies every hour from oral cancer in the United States. The U.S. death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the brain, liver, testes, kidney or ovarian cancer. Alarmingly, the American Dental Association studies have shown that over 25% of oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and have no other lifestyle risk factors. Other reports suggest that head and neck cancers, particularly tongue cancer, are increasing among young adults.
Far too often, oral cancer is detected in late stage development. This year alone, more than 30,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis. In five years, fewer than 57% will still be alive.
The good news is that if it’s caught early, oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases. When found at the earliest stages, treatment is quicker, simpler, less invasive and more than 90% successful.
Routine oral cancer examination by your dentist is an important first step in helping identify oral cancer. The ViziLite exam is a quick, painless screening test that assists in the early detection of oral abnormalities before they are large enough to be seen or felt in a conventional oral cancer exam. This technology is the only FDA-cleared device for the identification and monitoring of oral abnormalities that could lead to cancer.
What Are The Risk Factors For Oral Cancer?
- Age 40 and over
- Tobacco use, including “smokeless” tobacco
- Heavy or chronic alcohol consumption
- Viral infections, particularly HPV 16/18
- Long-term exposure to the sun (lip cancer)
- A history of white or red patches on the oral tissue
What Warning Signs Of Oral Cancer Should I Look For?
If you notice any of the following symptoms of oral cancer, be sure to discuss them with your family dentist, or health-care provider:
- A mouth sore that doesn’t heal
- A white or red patch of tissue
- Difficulty swallowing
- A lump or mass in the mouth or neck
- Pain or numbness in the oral/facial region
- Hoarseness that lasts for a long period
- Pain in the ear of long duration
- A change in voice
What Can You Do to Reduce The Risk Of Oral Cancer?
- Know if you are at risk
- Know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer
- Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol
- Tell your health-care provider about your risk factors
- Have a comprehensive oral cancer screening at least once a year