What is Oral Cancer?
Approximately 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Oral cancer is an umbrella term for cancers that develop in and around the mouth (the oral cavity). Oral cancer may develop on the gums, tongue, lips, inner lining of the cheek, beneath the tongue, or on the roof of the mouth. Early detection of oral cancer is essential, which is why people of all ages benefit from oral cancer screenings.
Elite Family Dental Care provides oral cancer screenings in Merrick, NY for patients in Nassau County and all of Long Island.
Reasons You Need to Be Screened for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer, when caught in the earliest stages, has a nearly 90% survival rate. However, oral cancer that is not diagnosed early often proves deadly. Sobering statistics about oral cancer make clear that regular oral cancer screenings are essential.
- The death rate in the U.S. for oral cancer is higher than the death rate from cervical cancer, brain cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, and ovarian cancer.
- The mortality rate for oral cancer has not improved significantly over the past four decades.
- One American dies of oral cancer every hour of every day.
Oral Cancer Screening Technology
Advancements in technology allow for the early detection of cancers of the mouth. Technology such as the VELscope supplements oral cancer examinations included with every dental checkup at Elite Family Dental Care.
VELscope uses fluorescence visualization to detect signs of cancer not visible to the naked eye. The examination is completely painless and is completed in just minutes. Your dentist will first dim the room lights – and then use the light from the VELscope to examine your mouth.
Under the light of the VELscope, healthy soft tissues in the mouth absorb the frequency of the device’s blue light and appear green. Potentially cancerous tissue will show up very dark in color. Your dentist may decide to take a biopsy at this time. If not, you may be scheduled for a follow-up biopsy.
If your biopsy returns with no sign of cancer, you will be advised to have another oral cancer screening in one year. If your biopsy shows cancerous cells, you will be referred for cancer treatment.
Oral Cancer Screenings During Dental Checkups
Elite Family Dental Care provides physical oral cancer screenings with each dental examination. During your biannual checkup and cleaning, Dr. Stanescu and Dr. Annapolen will look for any sign of diseased tissue in the mouth.
These signs may include lumps or growths in the mouth, sores that are not healing, red or white sores in the mouth, loose teeth, and red or white patches of tissue in the mouth. They will also ask you if you’ve experienced any mouth pain, pain when swallowing, or ear pain.
You may request additional VELscope screening, or the dentists may recommend this advanced screening based on the visual examination.