Oral Cancer Screenings in North Andover
Have you had an oral cancer screening? If the answer is no, it’s past time. Our dental team performs the exam as part of your regular cleaning and checkup. And with VELscope, we’ve never had a more accurate view of your oral cells and structures. What do you know about oral cancer? Let’s take a closer look at the disease, and why early detection is crucial for positive outcomes.
Oral Cancer: The Facts
Oral cancer is a broad term that refers to cancers affecting the throat, mouth, tongue, cheeks, sinuses, lips, and the hard and soft palate. The disease kills one American every hour. But when detected in its early stages, the five-year survival rate is 83 percent. Caught in the later stages, it drops to 50 percent. Unfortunately, too many people are not aware of the need for regular oral cancer screenings. The rise of the Human Papillomavirus is increasing the prevalence of strains of oral cancer, too.
Oral cancer is most prevalent in people who have the following risk factors of the disease. Be aware that you are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer if you…
- Are above the age of 55
- Consume alcohol
- Smoke or use tobacco
- Are frequently exposed to ultraviolet light
Screening for Oral Cancer
An oral cancer screening is performed alongside your regular checkup and cleaning at Willows Dental Group. It is a visual and tactile exam. Using VELscope alongside the intra and extraoral head and neck exam, your dentist can better visualize abnormalities for indications of cancer and pre-cancer. The use of the VELscope scanner only takes about two minutes, and it greatly aids in the early detection of oral cancers.
To begin your screening for oral cancer, your dentist will begin by asking you a series of questions. Have you noticed any changes in your oral health lately? Be sure to fully communicate any relevant information during this portion of the screening. Next, your dentist will look inside your mouth for any irregularities. Bumps, sore spots, red, inflamed areas, and any other irregularities may indicate the need for further testing. The tactile portion of the exam includes feeling your neck and oral cavity for lumps.
VELscope technology is an important supplement to the visual and tactile exam. It’s a handheld device that eliminates the need for messy dyes and prolonged testing procedures. By emitting a bright blue light, it allows your dentist to better see abnormal tissues. With the help of the VELscope scanner, we are increasing early detection of oral cancer for better outcomes.
Oral Cancer Prevention
There are some steps you can take to prevent your risk for developing oral cancer. First, quit smoking or tobacco use of any kind. Limit your alcohol consumption to one to two drinks per day, and never binge drink. The risk of developing oral cancer increases the longer tobacco and alcohol are used. Additionally, you should limit your exposure to the sun. Brush and floss your teeth regularly, and visit your dentist as recommended. Above all, stay on top of your regular oral cancer screenings -- it’s a good idea to have one every six months. Contact our office to schedule an appointment today!