What are Oral Cancer Screenings?
The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify mouth cancer early, when there is a greater chance for a cure. Research has shown that over 75% of head and neck cancers begin in the oral cavity.
Our dentists perform a visual and physical examination of your mouth during your routine dental visit to screen for oral cancer. When concern arises, our dentists may use additional tests to aid in identifying areas of abnormal cells in your mouth. A biopsy may be scheduled and performed in our practice for further evaluation. Our practice works with an excellent pathology lab to evaluate and diagnose conditions for our patients. Our practice understands that early diagnosis is essential to our patient's oral health.
Why would Oral Cancer Screenings be needed?
Lifestyle factors like smoking and chewing tobacco can increase the risks of developing oral cancer. Even if you've quit smoking years ago, it is still important that annual screenings be done. The screening itself takes just minutes and can be helpful in preventing future oral health problems. Even if you're not a smoker or use other types of tobacco, we recommend having a screening done regularly.
Who is a candidate for Oral Cancer Screenings?
If you're a smoker or use other tobacco-related products, we recommend coming in for routine screenings. If cancer runs in your family, it's important to consider coming in to get checked. Most adults are good candidates for these screenings. The benefits of having a screening done far outweigh the few minutes it takes to have it performed in our office.
What happens during Oral Cancer Screenings?
First, Our doctors will perform a dental examination as usual. They then lift the tongue to look underneath it. Our doctors will then visually scan the insides and outside of your mouth. We are looking for unusual lesions, bumps and plaque-like film that could be a sign of oral cancer. If we detect anything unusual, we will recommend that a biopsy be done to find out if the area is benign or cancerous. Keep in mind that the majority of cancer screenings come out negative, but it is still important to have them done so that we can catch a problem early on, if it's there.
What Types of Tools Are Used?
Our doctors will use a new technology called OralID to inspect your mouth for oral cancer. OralID is manufactured by Forward Science, a company that was founded with the vision to create a simpler, efficient, and more affordable oral cancer screening device.
OralID uses a proven, optically based technology called, "fluorescence technology." OralID's fluorescence technology uses a blue light (435–460 nm) that provides the clinician an aid in visualization of oral mucosal abnormalities, such as oral cancer and pre-cancer. The other medical applications of fluorescence technology include highlighting abnormalities of the GI tract, cervix, lung, and skin.
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