Oral Cancer Screening
Oral Cancer Screening
Every hour of every day, a person dies from oral cancer in the United States. It is expected that about 37,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year.
As with most other cancers, early detection is the key to improving the patient’s chances for survival. If found early, oral cancers have an 80–90% survival rate. Unfortunately, most cases are found as late stage cancers resulting in the high death rate of 50% at five years from diagnosis.
Causes of Oral Cancer
The two most common causes of oral cancer are the combined use of tobacco and alcohol, and exposure to human papilloma virus (HPV-16), the same virus which is responsible for most cervical cancer cases in women.
Oral Cancer Signs
As with breast cancer, self-examination and awareness can play an important role in early detection of oral cancer. Contact our office or your doctor immediately if you notice the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one:
• a sore in the mouth that does not heal (most common symptom)
• pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away (also very common)
• a persistent lump or thickening in the cheek
• a persistent white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
• a sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat that doesn’t go away
• difficulty chewing or swallowing
• difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
• numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
• swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
• loosening of the teeth or pain around the teeth or jaw
• voice changes
• a lump or mass in the neck
• weight loss
• persistent bad breath
With our use of the VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System, Dr. Rosemarie Marquez uses a handheld scope to help visualize oral tissue abnormalities, including cancer and pre-cancer. No dyes or prolonged testing is required, and the test is performed during a routine hygiene exam in about two minutes. This adjunctive device is used together with and as a supplement to the traditional intra and extraoral head and neck exam.
The VELscope handheld device emits a harmless, bright blue light for inspection of the mouth and tongue. The device is extremely sensitive to abnormal tissue changes making it an excellent and thorough choice for oral cancer screening. The distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissue (oral mucosa) of the mouth to naturally fluoresce. Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinct patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease, such as neoplastic lesions, and fungal, viral or bacterial infections.