There are many forms of cancers today and it is important for everyone to know that oral cancer, is a cancer that is difficult to treat, if not detected at an early stage.
During your dental exam, we will visually look at the tissues of the mouth, to check for any abnormal lesions. Unfortunately, early stages of oral cancer are not always visually seen with the eyes. The VELscope allows us to see areas of the mouth that may indicate early signs of oral cancer, that we do not see with our eyes. The VELscope is an instrument that produces a light that causes fluorescence in the tissue, allowing us to determine what is normal or not. Tissues that may be questionable, are those tissues that do not fluoresce when the light is shone on them. Common sights for oral cancer are the tongue, the side of the tongue, and underneath the tongue.
We recommend that you have a yearly screening for oral cancer. Some people feel that they are not at risk for oral cancer because they do not smoke. You do not have to be a smoker to get oral cancer. Oral cancers can be caused by viral infections of the body, like the Human Papilloma Virus, chewing tobacco and even alcohol use. The incidence of these oral cancers unrelated to smoking has doubled in the past decade.
Oral cancer has an overall 5-year survival rate at 52%. Early detection can considerably increase the success of treatment and survival.