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What is Oral Cancer Screening?

Landon Blatter

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Oral cancer has made headlines recently as actor, Michael Douglas discussed his battle with throat cancer in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. While some news media outlets may have taken some liberties with Mr. Douglas’s comments, scientific evidence shows that the human papilloma virus (HPV), a known cause of cervical cancer, has surpassed smoking and alcohol use to become the leading cause of head and neck cancers in the U. S. Over the past 5 years, there has been an increase in the rate of occurrence of oral cancers and it is expected that more than 42,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone. Given the rise in oral cancer diagnoses and the fact that when detected early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90% survival rate, it is extremely important to get regular oral cancer screenings from your dentist.

The key to successfully treating oral cancer is early detection, often times even before visible and/or palpable lesions are evident. In order to accomplish this, dentists have at their disposal an assortment of screening devices that can assist them in detecting oral cancer. A few of these devices include the Velscope, Vizilite Plus and the identafi 3000. While these oral cancer screening devices vary slightly, they all make use of a particular spectrum of blue light, which causes healthy soft tissues in the mouth to appear a light green color. Unhealthy tissue, either cancerous or diseased, will appear dark under this special light.

When these devices first began being used in dentistry, the technology was still relatively new and a number of dentists and patients complained about the number of false positives the devices produced. Over the years, however, the technology and the process has improved greatly and false positives have been significantly reduced. These early cancer detection devices are only the first step in the detection of oral cancer. Once suspicious tissue has been identified, a biopsy is required to determine if cancerous cells are present. A non-invasive brush biopsy can often help rule out the presence of cancer in areas of the mouth that appear black under the light of a Velscope or similar device. However, the only definitive way to determine if cancerous cells are present is by having a tissue biopsy performed.

oral cancer

Autho Bio:

Dentist in Denver believes that proper oral health and a great smile are priceless and that everyone deserves the look and feel a bright, dazzling and healthy smile can bring. With locations in Aurora, Centennial, and Cherry Creek we are available to answer all your questions about oral cancer screening and help you to maintain good oral health and the smile you always wanted. For more information please call 720-227-0516 or visit our website.


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