About two-thirds of oral cancer in the mouth or oral cavity occurs in the floor of the mouth and tongue, but can occur in the upper or lower jaw, lips, gums and cheek lining. Just behind the mouth is an area known as the oropharynx. Oropharyngeal cancer (one-third of cases) occurs in the back of the tongue, tonsils and throat tissue. Oral cancer kills one American every hour of every day, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Early detection offers the best chance of survival, yet only one-third of oral cancer is found in the earliest stages when treatment is most effective.
Who are most at risk?
- Smokers: People who use tobacco are six times more likely to develop oral cancer. 8 out of 10 oral cancer patients are smokers.
- Heavy alcohol drinkers: 80 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer consume more than 21 drinks weekly.
- HPV infected: People with history of oral human papilloma virus infections are at greater risk to develop oral cancer even if they don’t smoke or drink.
What are the warning signs?
- Red or white patches in or behind the mouth
- Mouth sores or ulcers that bleed easily and do not heal
- Unexplained lump in the neck, throat or floor of the mouth
- Unexplained swelling or fullness in the neck
- Difficulty or discomfort swallowing
- Pain and tenderness in teeth or gums
- Change in the fit of dentures or partial dentures
- Visible change in mouth tissue
- Unpleasant sensations (pain, discomfort, numbness)
- Diminished ability to perform normal functions such as opening jaw, chewing or swallowing
How can you prevent oral cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends a comprehensive oral evaluation and soft tissue exam annually, yet only one in five patients reports having an oral cancer exam in the last year. Dr. Silvaggio is trained to perform a comprehensive evaluation of your mouth including the associated structures in the head and neck area. The VELscope Vx® Exam is an oral cancer screening that is quick and painless; treatment for advanced oral cancer is not.
What is a VELscope Vx® Exam?
In our continuing efforts to provide the most advanced technology and highest standard of care to our patients, we are proud to include the VELscope Vx® Exam as part of all annual hygiene and recall visits. The VELscope Vx® exam takes 2 minutes and involves no pain or inconvenience.
Why do we include a VELscope Vx® Exam in all annual hygiene/recall visits?
One person dies every hour from oral cancer in the United States – and the mortality has remained unchanged for more than 40 years. Late detection of oral cancer is the primary cause that both the incidence and mortality rates of oral cancer continue to increase. As with most other cancers, age is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Though tobacco use is a major predisposing risk factor, 25% of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors. According to the American Cancer Society, more women in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year than will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Clinical studies have determined that using VELscope Vx® improves the ability to identify and evaluate suspicious areas at their earliest stages. Early detection of pre-cancerous tissue can minimize or eliminate the potentially disfiguring effects of oral cancer and possibly save your life. Proven screening technologies such as mammogram, Pap smear, PSA and colonoscopy offer the same type of early detection of cancer. VELscope Vx® is an easy and painless examination that gives our practice the best chance to find any oral abnormalities you may have at the earliest possible stage. When premalignant lesions or early stage oral cancer is found, treatment is simpler, less invasive and more that 90% successful.
When should you get a VELscope Vx® Exam?
We include a VELscope Vx® exam in annual hygiene/recall visits for all of our adult patients age 18 and older and tobacco users of any age. We believe that by using VELscope Vx®, along with our standard oral cancer exam, we will improve our ability to identify, evaluate and monitor abnormal areas that are difficult to see under conventional lighting. If you would like to learn more about VELscope Vx® please visit their website at: www.velscope.com