Every oral examination must have a soft and hard tissue screening to confirm the absence of any suspicious lesions in the mouth. For the last thirty years, there has been virtually no improvement in the mortality rates from oral cancers. Early detection is the key to survival and improved mortality.
Simple screening during dental exams, along with biopsies of suspicious lesions, is the key to early detection and treatment. Traditionally, many of these lesions have been watched without a protocol to biopsy and treat. “Watchful waiting,” is not a treatment. The profession, as a whole, has realized this and has gotten more aggressive in how we approach a questionable lesion in the mouth.
Here are some of the facts:
- 35,000 people are newly diagnosed each year in the United States with oral cancer.
- This number is three times the number for cervical cancer.
- 8,000 people die each year from oral cancer.
- That number represents one patient every hour, 24 hours per day.
What can you do?
- Stop tobacco use. 75% of those people diagnosed with oral cancer either smoke or chew.
- Alcohol and Tobacco users have up to 15 times greater risk of developing oral cancer.
- Consider the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. This should be discussed with your child’s pediatrician.
- Yearly oral cancer screenings.
- Velscope technology allows us to non-invasively see if there are any tissue changes underlying the surface of the soft tissue mucosa.