Merrick - Dentist - Dr. John G. Stanescu - Oral Cancer
About Oral Cancer
Most people are surprised to learn that one American dies every hour from oral cancer; a death rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 40 years. In fact, recent statistics published by the American Cancer Society indicate that while the incidence and death rates for cancers overall has decreased, the incidence of oral cancer has increased by 5.5% and the death rate has increased by 1.5%
Oral cancer is far too often discovered in late stage development, the primary reason for the consistently high death rate. Oral cancer treatment often results in disfiguring effects on patients, and can seriously compromise their quality of life. Early detection and diagnosis can make a tremendous difference in life expectancy; oral cancer is 90% curable when found in its early stages. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, III and IV, leading to a five-year survival rate of 57%.
THE DEADLY STATISTICS
- Every hour of every day, one American dies of oral cancer.
- The mortality rate associated with oral cancer has not improved significantly in the last 40 years.
- The death rate in the United States for oral cancer is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkin's disease, cancer of the brain, liver, testes, kidney, or ovary.
- More than 30,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year. In five years, only 57% will still be alive.
- 27% of oral cancer victims do not use tobacco or alcohol and have no other lifestyle risk factors.
VELscope® as part of a comprehensive oral screening
The best way to stay protected from oral cancer is to get annual oral cancer screenings. Most dentists perform an oral cancer exam during a regular dental checkup. The FDA-approved VELscope® offers dentists another examination tool to help detect oral cancer in its earliest stages. The VELscope® is a blue excitation lamp, which highlights precancerous and cancerous cell changes.
How does the VELscope® work?
The VELscope® uses Fluorescence Visualization (FV) in an exciting new way. Essentially, bright blue light is shone into the mouth to expose changes and lesions that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. One of the biggest difficulties in diagnosing oral cancer is that its symptoms look similar to symptoms of less serious problems. The VELscope® System affords the dentist important insight as to what is happening beneath the surface.
The healthy soft tissue of the mouth naturally absorbs the VELscope® frequency of blue light. Healthy areas beneath the surface of the soft tissue show up green, and the problem areas become much darker.
Here are some of the advantages of using the VELscope® System:
Can be combined with digital photography.
Detects lesions, white and red patches.
Detects problem areas that cannot be seen under white light.
Exposes precancerous and cancerous tissue.
Helps dentists check that diseased soft tissue is completely removed.
Helps diagnose oral cancer in its earliest stages, exponentially increasing the chance of survival.
Quick, painless examinations.
How is the VELscope® examination performed?
The VELscope® examination literally takes only two or three minutes. It is a painless and noninvasive procedure that saves many lives every single year.
Here is a brief overview of what a VELscope® examination is like:
Initially, the dentist will perform a regular visual examination of the whole lower face. This includes the glands, tongue, cheeks and palate as well as the teeth. The dentist provides special eyewear to protect the integrity of the retinas. The lights in the room are dimmed to allow a clear view of the oral cavity.
Lesions and other indicators of oral cancer are easily noticeable because they appear much darker under the specialized light.
If symptoms are noted, the dentist might take a biopsy to determine whether or not this is oral cancer. The results of the biopsy dictate the best course of action from there. Otherwise, another oral cancer screening is performed in one year’s time.
If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer screening or the VELscope® system, please contact our office.