Approximately 53,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer annually. During Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we want to shine a light on oral cancer and the importance of prioritizing screenings.

Oral cancer is a general term which includes cancers impacting the lips, tongue, throat, sinuses, floor of the mouth, cheeks, and hard/soft palate. In the beginning, cancerous or precancerous lesions can be visible during a dentist’s examination either just visually or utilizing a tool such as a VELscope.

Although preventing oral cancer altogether may not be entirely possible, a couple of risk factors have been observed in previous cases.

  • Tobacco use—Regardless of whether you are smoking a cigar, cigarette, and pipes, or using chewing tobacco or snuff, all these products have been noted as contributing factors.
  • Heavy alcohol usage—Using alcohol to excess could be harmful for many different health reasons, but in this case, it can have a relevant impact.
  • Previous oral cancer—If you have a history of oral cancer, a reoccurrence is possible.Long history of excessive sun exposure—This is relevant in the case of lip cancer specifically.

Even if none of the contributing factors apply to you, a regular oral cancer screening is still beneficial. When oral cancer is caught early, the prognosis is much more positive. The treatment success has been seen to be most effective when the cancer was discovered early on.

What to expect during an Oral Cancer Screening:

Generally, we encourage an oral cancer screening after a routine cleaning has been completed. There is no inconvenience as you are already in office.

  • Quick process—Since we utilize a VELscope which shines a blue light to highlight abnormalities, we can complete the screening quickly and thoroughly. In most cases, the screening will not take more than a minute or two.
  • Painless—The oral cancer screening does not cause any pain or side effect. Since the examination is completed with a light, there will be no discomfort throughout the process or afterwards.
  • Peace of mind—When you complete a screening and receive a positive result, you can feel at ease about the health of your mouth. If an abnormality is noted, this is just an opportunity to explore the issue and if the abnormality is cancerous, get a jump on a treatment plan for best results.