VisiLite® Oral Cancer Detection
Oral cancer is one of the most treatable and curable cancers when caught early. Five year survivorship after treatment is very high when the cancer is discovered in the earliest stages. More than 41,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or larynx cancer this year. Of those, over 12,000 will die—the equivalent of one death every 45 minutes. This is a number higher than deaths from cervical cancer, melanoma skin cancers, and testicle cancer. The VisiLite® exam lets Dr. Briggs check your mouth for abnormalities. The smallest unusual cell growth is detected, and can result in a treatment protocol to stop the cells before they grow into larger tumors.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, more commonly referred to as “mouth cancer,” can occur in and affect any part of a person’s mouth. In most instances, the cancer originates in a specific region (lips, cheeks, gums), but if left untreated can quickly spread to other areas in the mouth. It is a serious condition that claims many lives every year. Improper dental care is a leading cause for oral cancer development; this is why dentists strongly encourage their patients to keep current on check-ups and appointments. Routine cleanings and inspections are necessary for early detection. If there is a problem present, the likelihood that it can be treated will increase substantially if caught early on.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Like most cancers, oral cancer does not tend to produce notable symptoms in its early stages. However, this does not mean your dentist will be unable to tell if something is wrong. People who smoke or drink alcohol are more prone to oral cancer, and as such should stick to their routine checkups on a consistent basis.
There are a number of signs and symptoms that people experience with this disease, and they are:
- Red or white patches on the tongue or internal lining of the mouth
- Oral ulcers and sores
- Painful swallowing
- Loose teeth
- Jaw pain/stiffness
- Neck pain
If you notice one or a combination of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist immediately. They will likely want to see you as soon as possible to perform an examination.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?
As previously mentioned, people who smoke or drink alcohol will be more prone to this condition than those that do not. However, oral cancer can also be caused by genetics. In this regard, it is important to get your oral DNA tested by your dentist. This simple test will alert him/her of any conditions you might be predisposed to, such as oral cancer. Other risk factors include: tobacco chewing, excess sun exposure to the lips, a diet high in red meats, and exposure to chemicals like asbestos.