Serving Portland OR – Vancouver WA
According to research conducted by the American Cancer society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year. More than 7,000 of these cases result in the death of the patient. Approximately one American dies every hour from oral cancer.
Oral cancer is 90% curable when found in its early stages. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed too late. This is because oral cancer rarely visible to the naked eye when it is in stage 1 or stage 2.
However, there is a proven way to detect oral cancer before it becomes life-threatening or disfiguring!
Your safety and health is our first priority. That is why we offer very patient the most advanced oral lesion identification system available: Velscope. The unique light enables us to view cancerous and pre-cancerous tissues through the gum tissue before they are visible to the naked-eye. This makes the oral cancer examinations performed by the dentist critically important. With VelscopeTM, you can be confident in an accurate diagnosis.
Velscope is painless, fast, and could help save your life!
VelscopeTM is performed immediately following a regular visual examination.
- First, you will be instructed to rinse with a cleansing solution
- Next, the overhead lighting will be dimmed.
- Then, your dental professional will examine your mouth using Velscope, a specially designed light technology.
The Face of Oral Cancer is changing
Oral cancer is most commonly related to tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, especially for those who are over 40 years old. If you fall into one of these categories, you are at high risk for oral cancer
On the other hand, 25% of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors. This is why every patient needs an oral cancer exam!
When oral cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, treatment is generally very effective. Any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, mouth or surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as quickly as possible. During the oral cancer exam, the dentist and dental hygienist scrutinize the maxillofacial and oral regions carefully for signs of pathologic changes.
The following signs will be investigated during a routine oral cancer exam:
- Red patches and sores – Red patches on the floor of the mouth, the front and sides of the tongue, white or pink patches which fail to heal and slow healing sores that bleed easily can be indicative of pathologic (cancerous) changes.
- Leukoplakia – This is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, or may become cancerous if treatment is not sought.
- Lumps – Soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathological problems.
Oral cancers can be of varied histologic types such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma. The most common type of oral cancer is the malignant squamous cell carcinoma. This oral cancer type usually originates in lip and mouth tissues.
There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:Lips, Mouth, Tongue, Salivary Glands, Oropharyngeal Region (throat), Gums, Face
Oral cancer exams, diagnosis and treatment
The oral cancer examination is a completely painless process. During the visual part of the examination, the dentist will look for abnormality and feel the face, glands and neck for unusual bumps. If abnormalities, lesions, leukoplakia or lumps are apparent, the dentist will perform a biopsy of the area. The biopsy includes a clinical evaluation which will identify the precise stage and grade of the oral lesion.
Oral cancer is deemed to be present when the basement membrane of the epithelium has been broken. Malignant types of cancer can readily spread to other places in the oral and maxillofacial regions, posing additional secondary threats. Treatment methods vary according to the precise diagnosis, but may include excision, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
During bi-annual check-ups, the dentist and hygienist will thoroughly look for changes and lesions in the mouth, but a dedicated comprehensive oral cancer screening should be performed at least once each year. At New Image Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, Dr. Perkins performs a complete oral cancer screening during the comprehensive exam and also evaluates each year at the recare exam during your cleaning. If you notice any slow-healing sores or strangely colored tissue, please notify the dentist as soon as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, don’t hesitate to call us at (360) 604-7151.