Oral Cancer Screening
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Did you know that oral cancer is the sixth deadliest cancer in the world with roughly 30,000 new cases diagnosed each year? It’s a growing problem among people 40 years of age and older, especially among smokers, smokeless tobacco users, and drinkers. When detected and treated early, however, oral cancer is 83% curable.
Early detection of abnormalities that develop in the tissues of your lips, mouth, and throat is essential in preventing possibly severe health issues from developing, such as oral cancer and other oral diseases. To further our goal of protecting your health, your West Falls Church Dental dentist is now utilizing the innovative VELscope system to best assess your overall oral health. This system is quick, non-invasive and extremely helpful in detecting oral abnormalities.
The VELscope is a wireless, handheld scope that uses natural tissue fluorescence to enhance the way clinicians visualize abnormalities that might not be apparent or even visible to the naked eye. It is used in conjunction with the traditional intra- and extra-oral head and neck exam and does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. In fact, a VELscope exam can be performed in the dentist’s office during a routine exam in about two minutes. Its use in everyday practice can provide timely information to dentists and hygienists to enable enhanced visualization of abnormal tissue.
Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff, among others
- Heavy alcohol use
- Previous oral cancer diagnosis
- History of significant sun exposure, which increases the risk of lip cancer
Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses and pharynx (throat), can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
- The development of white, red or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth or neck
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within two weeks
- A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat or change in voice
- Ear pain
- A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
- Dramatic weight loss
During your regular exam, your dentist will ask you about changes in your medical history and whether you’ve been having any new or unusual symptoms. Then, your dentist will check your oral cavity. This includes your lips, cheek lining, gums, the front part of your tongue, the floor of your mouth and the roof of your mouth. Your dentist will also examine your throat (pharynx) at the soft part at the roof of your mouth, including your tonsils, the back section of your tongue and where your tongue attaches to the bottom of your mouth. The dentist will then feel your jaw and neck for any lumps or abnormalities.
Early detection may result in better treatment outcomes. Call West Falls Church Dental at 703-641-8717 today.