Oral Cancer Screening: It Could Save Your Life
Did you know that oral cancer steals the life of one American every hour? We don't hear much about oral cancer, but only half of patients diagnosed with oral cancer will survive longer than five years. Because it is often detected in the later stages, oral cancer's mortality rate is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkins disease, brain, liver, kidney, or ovarian cancer. Treatment for oral cancer often causes disfiguration and lessens the patient’s quality of life.
Thanks to an amazing new technology called Velscope, dentists and hygienists can quickly and painlessly screen for oral cancer. Velscope is an identification and marking system that detects tissue abnormalities and is used in combination with traditional visual exams.
All adults should have an annual Velscope exam because a quarter of oral cancer victims are non-smokers, don't drink, and have no lifestyle factors to heighten their oral cancer risk. Men over 40 and women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most prone to the disease. Patients with lifestyle risks, including any tobacco use, daily alcohol consumption, viral infections, autoimmune deficiencies like HIV, and diabetes, may need more frequent evaluations.
The screening involves a few simple steps. First, you rinse thoroughly with a cleansing solution. Then, your dentist dims the overhead lights and examines your mouth using the Velscope wand. If Velscope finds a problem area, the spot will become illuminated and appear distinctly different from the surrounding normal tissue.
While all of this information sounds disheartening, if oral cancer is found and treated in the early stages the condition has an 80 to 90-percent cure rate. Ask Dr. Fossum or Dr. Grosskopf about whether you could benefit from an oral cancer screening that includes Velscope.