Have You Been Screened For Oral Cancer?
In a typical day in the United States, more than 130 people learn that they have oral cancer, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
The foundation also reports that one person dies from oral cancer every hour in the U.S.
Cancer is a serious issue for anyone, and it’s something we take seriously at Hubbard & Leath Dental. It’s why we include oral cancer screenings with the ViziLite as a part of our routine dental cleanings and exams.
We will explain why we use the ViziLite and how it helps you in a moment. The important thing to remember is that early detection can make a big difference in the effectiveness of oral cancer treatment.
Oral Cancer Awareness
In our first post for this month, we noted that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
In that post, we focused on three of the biggest causes of oral cancer. They are tobacco use, alcohol use, and HPV. We discussed ways you can help prevent oral cancer, such as avoiding or quitting tobacco, limiting or avoiding alcohol, and getting vaccinated against HPV (if you are eligible).
Our hope is that neither you nor anyone you love ever develops oral cancer. At the same time, we know how important early detection can be.
Here are the five-year survival rates for oral cancer patients, based on when their cancer is detected:
▪︎ Patients have an 83 percent survival rate when their cancer has not spread from the mouth or throat.
▪︎ Patients have a 62 percent survival rate if their cancer has reached the lymph nodes
▪︎ Patients have a 38 percent survival rate if their cancer that reached more distant parts of the body
Like we said above, we hope you never have this disease. If you do, we think these statistics help explain why we want to find it as early as possible.
Symptoms Of Oral Cancer
We also want you to be aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. These are things you may notice on your own. If you do, we strongly encourage you to make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.
These symptoms may turn out to be harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry whenever cancer is a possibility.
▸ White or red patches of tissue in your mouth that does not heal within 14 days
▸ A small ulcer that looks similar to a canker sore that does not heal within 14 days
▸ A lump or mass that you can feel in your mouth or neck
▸ Pain that persists while eating, speaking, or swallowing
▸ A persistent feeling of being hoarse
▸ A wart-like growth in the mouth
▸ A recurring earache on one side
▸ Numbness in the mouth or face
Again, if you notice one or more of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your family physician.
How The ViziLite Helps
The human eye is remarkable, but we know that it has limitations.
Humans have overcome these limitations through technology. Telescopes allow us to see deep into space. Microscopes allow us to see things that are far too small for our normal vision.
And the ViziLite Plus with TBlue360 allows us to see possible oral cancer before we could with our eyes alone. Here’s how it works.
First your rinse with a special solution. Then we shine the ViziLite in your mouth. The solution interacts with abnormal cells in a way that makes them more visible when exposed to the light.
By doing this, we may be able to detect unusual changes in soft tissues sooner. That means you can get checked and, if needed, begin treatment earlier.
And we know that this makes a big difference in how effective the treatment is likely to be.
A visual examination can identify problems, but not as well as or as early as the ViziLite.
Keep Your Mouth As Healthy As It Can Be
When we encourage our patients to make regular visits to our office, we certainly want to fight cavities and gum disease. In some cases, however, we may find something far more serious.
We want our patients to keep visiting us for years to come. That’s why we make oral cancer screenings part of our routine exams.