Did you know that oral cancer steals the life of one American every hour? We don’t hear much about oral cancer, but 34,000 patients will be diagnosed in 2007. Only half of patients diagnosed with oral cancer will survive longer than five years. Because it is often detected in the later stages, oral cancer’s mortality rate is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, brain, liver, kidney, or ovarian cancer. Treatment for oral cancer often causes disfiguration and lessens the patient’s quality of life.
Thanks to an amazing new technology, VELscope, dentists and hygienists can quickly and painlessly screen for oral cancer. VELscope is a fluorescence-based identification system that detects tissue abnormalities and is used in combination with traditional visual exams.
We screen all adults with an annual VELscope exam because a quarter of oral cancer victims are non-smokers, don’t drink, and have no lifestyle factors to heighten their oral cancer risk. Men over 40 and women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most prone to the disease. Patients with lifestyle risks, including any tobacco use, daily alcohol consumption, viral infections, autoimmune deficiencies like HIV, and diabetes, may need more frequent evaluations.
Highlighted on the Dr. Oz show in 2011, the screening involves use of a special light to illuminate abnormal cells so that they appear distinctly different from the surrounding normal tissue.
While the statistics on oral cancer are, when found and treated in the early stages the condition has an 80 to 90-percent cure rate.