If you've been a patient of our practice for a while you've may have noticed that we regularly conduct an "extra" exam -- a quick, painless screening for oral cancer -- as part of your routine exam.
And you may have wondered why. After all, oral cancer doesn't get the attention breast and prostate cancers do. In fact I can't think of the last time I've seen anything about it in
the paper or on TV.
So let me share the FIVE CRITICAL REASONS our office believes these screenings are true lifesavers:
1. Oral cancer is a LOT more common than people think
Also called mouth, tongue or lip cancer, oral cancer strikes approximately 36,000 Americans each year. That works out to
100 people diagnosed with the disease each and every day. Not only that, but oral cancer is actually becoming MORE
common - with this year being the fourth in a row where the rate has increased.
2. Anyone can get oral cancer
Some people are more at risk of oral cancer than others, including people who use tobacco or
alcohol (particularly in combination), those who have been exposed to human papilloma virus
version 16 (the same virus implicated in cervical cancer) and those who get too much sun or have a family history. But no one is immune. For example,more than 25 % of people with oral cancer don't smoke or use alcohol heavily.
3. Early detection is the key to beating oral cancer
When oral cancer is diagnosed early it has survival rate of 80 - 90%. When it's found later, though, it's
much harder to treat with the result that the survival rate after five years is a dismal 45%. In fact, someone
dies of oral cancer every hour.
Oral cancer found early is also easier to treat, with fewer side effects. When it's found late, treatment
often leaves patients disfigured and unable to chew,swallow or speak clearly.
4. Finding oral cancer can be as difficult as it is important.
Diagnosing oral cancer early is important - but it's also hard to do. Experts recommend people do a self
exam at least once a month - looking closely at their lips, tongue, gums, roof and floor of mouth, cheeks, and
back of mouth. But even with a thorough self exam oral cancer can be easy to miss. Most signs are tiny
and many are similar to other conditions.
5. Exams by professionals save lives.
Because of the limitations of self exams, the American Cancer Society recommends that everyone over 20 have
a cancer screening exam performed by a dentist every three years. People over 40 should have one each year.
With their equipment and years of experience, dentists simply have a better chance of finding cancer early
-- while it's easiest to treat.
At our office, we consider a thorough cancer screening an important part of your routine exam.
For starters, we look closely at the entire inside of your mouth, including your tongue, and check your neck and
lower jaw for any suspicious lumps. Then, as an additional layer of protection, We use a sophisticated new screening technology
called ViziLite®, reduced half price to $33 during your cleaning appointment.
When you call to make your appointment please mention this article.
For this test you'll rinse with a special solution, and then I'll use a specially designed light to identify problem areas.
If I find anything suspicious there are simple, painless ways to test for cancer.The entire process takes just a few minutes but it's a real
lifesaver. Plus, leaving the office knowing you've been carefully checked and found to be cancer free is a great feeling.
And so is helping your friends and family. So if you know someone who hasn't seen a dentist in a while, I hope you'll urge them to see a dentist for an oral cancer exam right away.
It could be the most important thing you do today.
Please call to reserve an appointment time to have an oral cancer screening completed today at the reduced fee of $33 just for mentioning this article. Expires March 31, 2016.
Sources: ADA,org, myclevelandclinic.org