Oral Cancer Screenings by Art of Smiles Dentistry
The Oral Cancer Foundation reports “close to 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year.” And, “of those 43,250 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.” (oralcancerfoundation.org) To combat the significant risks of oral cancer, preventative screenings are available at Harrison's Art of Smiles Dentistry.
Oral cancer can go unnoticed for many years. However, many dentists, such as Dr. Arel, understand early detection through the use of routine oral cancer screenings is both possible and vital for her patients. The Harrison practice uses an early detection device, VELscope, for high risk patients, and manual oral cancer screenings as part of every visit.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
• Blotchy white or red patches in the mouth
• A sore in the mouth (gums) that won't heal * It is important to have any sore or discolored area of your mouth, which does not heal within 14 days, looked at by a professional.
• Bleeding in the mouth
• Loose teeth absent of trauma
• Lump in the neck – often presents in glands, tonsils, etc.
• Pain or difficulty when swallowing
Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
Oral cancers are not difficult to diagnose, or discover. Yet, statistics indicate late diagnosis is common – the Oral Cancer Foundation suggests this is due to a lack of a “comprehensive program in the US to opportunistically screen for the disease.” (oralcancerfoundation.org) Another inhibitor is the role played by HPV16, a virus that increasingly contributes to the rate of oral cancers, but doesn't create discolored patches or lesions that are usually early indicators of the disease.
The VELscope addresses both concerns. Available as an additional service for high risk patients, the VELscope is a hand-held scope that uses natural tissue fluorescence visualization to identify problem areas. The VELscope advantages are significant and have been repeatedly studied and praised throughout the industry:
• Can be used in combination 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 assess soft tissue, ensure diseased tissue is removed
• Early stage oral cancer diagnosis, exponentially increasing the chance of survival
• Quick and painless examinations.
A regular visual examination is first performed by the dentist, to include the glands, tongue, cheeks, palate and teeth. The dentist provides patients with special eye wear for protection throughout the procedure. The VELscope handpiece shines a bright, blue light into the mouth and throat to expose changes and lesions that otherwise cannot be detected in natural, white light. Suspicious irregularities are notated and Dr. Arel will educate patients on what comes next.
If the doctor feels it is necessary, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled within a couple of weeks to assess any potential problem areas. Otherwise, the screening is over within a few minutes and the patient has immediate peace of mind.
If you have concerns about oral cancer, or would like to know more, contact us at Art of Smiles Dentistry and we will happily address your questions. We welcome patients from Harrison and surrounding areas.