Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is a significant danger for those across the United States and right here in Columbus, Ohio. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 8,000 people die from oral cancer every year – that is equal to one death every hour. Thankfully, oral cancer can be treated in 90% of cases as long as it is detected at an early stage.
What Are the Signs of Oral Cancer?
There are many symptoms to be aware of, including:
- Unusual bleeding
- Numbness or pain in the mouth
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Swelling in the neck or throat
- Sores that do not heal
- White or red patches in and around the mouth, and
- Long-lasting sore throats.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be time to schedule an examination with your dentist!
What Causes Oral Cancer?
There are multiple strains of HPV, each affecting a different area of the body. HPV 16, which largely affects the mouth, is the leading cause of oral cancer among Americans. According to studies, roughly 8 out of every 10 Americans will suffer from an HPV infection at least once in their lifetime. Although most HPV infections are cleared away without any symptoms, they can still cause damage.
Tobacco and Alcohol dependency can also cause oral cancers. While they don’t pose as significant of a risk as HPV, if you use tobacco or alcohol regularly, you may be at risk of developing oral cancer.
How Do You Detect Oral Cancer?
At Lifetime Dental Health, we primarily use three methods to test for oral cancer – visual testing, saliva testing, and VELscope screenings. To begin your examination, Dr. Barry or Dr. Love will examine your mouth for any noticeable signs of cancer. The lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, sinuses, mouth floor, and hard and soft palate are all susceptible to oral cancers.
For a saliva test, we ask patients to provide a small sample of saliva. This is then tested to determine if there are any signs of cancer. While saliva tests do not detect cancerous cells themselves, they test hormone levels, acid levels and other abnormalities that may point to cancer.
Using VELscope technology, we are able to find any abnormalities that are not visible to the naked eye. The VELscope is a wireless scope that enhances tissue fluorescence. In essence, this device makes abnormalities visible and easier to detect.
If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, call our Columbus dental office at 614-451-2234.