Oral cancer screening

Oral cancer screening

Oral cancer screening

Every year, many people are diagnosed with oral cancer.  Oral cancer can be present on the mouth, tongue, lips or throat. Unfortunately, the survival rate of patients with this type of cancer is low because in most cases it is not detected early enough. Studies show that early diagnosis significantly increases survival rate. The best way to protect yourself against oral cancer is to get an annual screening exam at your dentist.

How is screening done?

As part of your routine dental examination, your dentist may perform screening for oral cancer using a Velscope device. The Velscope emits a harmless blue light to help dentists identify abnormal tissues (including cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions that might otherwise go unnoticed). The device is extremely sensitive to changes in tissues such as neoplastic lesions, fungal, viral and bacterial lesions. If a suspicious area is detected, your dentist will recommend an evaluation to determine what is it exactly.

The use of the Velscope is fast, safe and painless. It is recommended to undergo this kind of examination every year. The Velscope is the best way to get a thorough oral examination!

What are the risk factors?

The risk factors for oral cancel are:

  • Smoking: Tobacco and cannabis smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers;
  • Chewing tobacco;
  • Excessive alcohol consumption: Oral cancers are about six times more frequent among drinkers than among those who don’t consume alcohol. Although alcohol is a risk factor less important than tobacco, the combination of the two put you at a much higher risk to develop oral cancer;
  • Family history;
  • Excessive exposure to the sun (lip cancer);
  • Poor eating habits.

How can I prevent oral cancer?

Here are some tips which could help you prevent oral cancer:

  • Not smoking tobacco or cannabis;
  • Not chewing tobacco;
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation;
  • Adopting a well balanced diet including vegetables that are rich in vitamin A;
  • Limiting your exposure to the sun: Repeated exposure increases the risk of lip cancer. When exposed to the sun, be sure to use a UVA – UVB protective lotion on your skin and lips.

Here are survival rates in relation to the stage at which cancer is discovered:

  • Stage I = 80% to 85%

  • Stage II = 60% to 75%

  • Stage III = 35% to 66%

  • Stage IV = 15% to 30%

If you notice any change in the appearance of your mouth, contact your dentist. Some spots or wounds can be very small and difficult to observe. They are even sometimes invisible to the naked eye. Early detection of oral cancer greatly improves the chances of successful treatment.