April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
by Dr. Kathy Mullaney
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and early detection will help to reduce your risk. Tobacco is the largest contributor in the development of oral or mouth cancers. NOT using tobacco is the single most important thing you can do to avoid oral cancers.
Other risk factors that you can CONTROL include excessive alcohol consumption, the combined use of tobacco and alcohol, and excessive unprotected exposure to sun.
As we age, our risk of disease in general, including oral cancer increases as our immune system becomes less efficient. Increasing numbers of young, non-smoking individuals are being diagnosed with oral cancer. The most likely causative factor is HPV viral infection, the same virus responsible for more than 95% of all cervical cancer.
In the early stages of oral cancer’s development, it is often painless, and the physical signs may not be obvious. Regular screenings by a qualified dentist will allow its discovery in the earliest possible stages, when cure and survival are most likely. Early indicators include red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth, any sore which does not heal within 14 days, and hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time. ***Please contact our office immediately if you notice any of these indicators, and we will have you in for a screening.
The good news is that oral cancers can be found in early development. In our office, in just 3 to 5 minutes, you can receive a comprehensive oral cancer exam. This exam will consist of a visual and tactile exploration of the interior of your mouth, as well as the underside of your chin and neck.
We also use a special early detection screening tool, called a VELscope® which allows us to find oral cancers earlier. Unlike other adjunctive devices used by dentists, the VELscope® system does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. In fact, VELscope® examinations can be performed in the dentist’s office during routine hygiene exams (and under normal lighting conditions) in about two minutes.
Early detection is one of the best mechanisms for enabling treatment success, increasing survival rates and maintaining a high quality of life.
Please call our office if you have any questions, or would like to come for your oral cancer screening exam today.