Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is cancer that occurs in the mouth, on the gums, lips, tongue, or in the throat. Instances of oral cancer have been steadily increasing over the last ten years and are becoming more common in women and younger adults.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, over 45,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year and over 8,600 will die from the disease. While it is not one of the most common cancers, it can be one of the most deadly.
While oral cancer is not particularly difficult to treat in its early stages, it is often diagnosed later in its development, which makes it more deadly. The five-year survival rate is approximately 57 percent. While it is an improvement over the last decade, it is one of the lowest survival rates, making it a particularly dangerous cancer.
Certain risk factors increase your chances of oral cancer:
- Alcohol use
- Age (over 40)
- Race (African Americans are more likely to have oral cancer)
- Sun exposure (leads to cancer of the lips)
- Presence of the HPV virus
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Your dentist is your best defense against oral cancer because dentists are trained to recognize the early symptoms of oral cancer. In some cases, the symptoms are subtle and may resemble a canker sore. In other cases, you may have a red or dark-colored lesion. Some of the symptoms include:
- Lesions that do not go away
- White or red patches
- A lump or cyst
- Pain when swallowing
- A wart-like lesion
If you have any lesions or changes in your soft tissue that last more than 14 days, you should make an appointment with your dentist.
Oral Cancer Detection with ViziLite Plus
At Alliance Dental, in addition to regular visual inspections, we utilize ViziLite Plus, the latest technology in oral cancer detection. It uses a special fluorescent lighting system that highlights oral cancer in its earliest stages. If we find a suspicious lesion, we will recommend a biopsy to rule out oral cancer.
By choosing a dentist who uses ViziLite oral cancer detection, you increase your chances of early diagnosis and survival of oral cancer. This is just one reason why maintaining your routine dental exams is essential.
Treatment of Oral Cancer
Treatment of oral cancer often includes a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The earlier you seek treatment, the less invasive treatment will generally be. If the cancer metastasizes, it can move to the lymph system. From there, it may move throughout the body.
Call Us for Your Next Preventive Appointment
If you are past due, or if it is time for your next preventive exam, contact our Fort Myers dental office today at 239-939-2433. Dr. Spaska Malaric will provide you with a comprehensive exam to rule out any serious health conditions or signs of oral cancer. Visiting your dentist regularly could save your life!