What is Oral Cancer? Oral cancer is an uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. It can appear as the growth or sore that does not go away and can be can be in your lips, cheeks, tongue, the floor of your mouth, hard and soft palates, sinuses, and your throat. Oral cancer can be life threatening if not caught and treated in the early stages.
What are the symptoms of Oral Cancer? The most common symptom of oral cancer is white patches in the mouth. In some cases, red patches appear which means the white patches have gone unnoticed and turn into red sores. If there is a sore in your mouth that has been there for more than two weeks it can be a sign of oral cancer. Bleeding gums, loose teeth, difficulty or pain swallowing, dentures that don’t fit correctly, lumps in the neck and/or earaches are all signs of oral cancer. Very often there may be no symptoms and may only be detected by an oral cancer exam or biopsy.
How can Oral Cancer be prevented? Tobacco is the most common cause of oral cancer (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, smokeless tobacco etc.) Tobacco products are responsible for 80% of oral cancer cases. Decreasing the use of tobacco products will substantially reduce your chances of getting oral cancer. Alcohol abuse and excess stress have also been associated with oral cancer.
How do you screen for Oral Cancer? Dentists have many tools to locate oral cancer. Our office uses the Velescope system, which is the world’s number one oral cancer screening device. It is a specialized light that assists in seeing cancerous and precancerous lesions that might not be visible to the naked eye. It is also the first device to help surgeons determine the appropriate surgical margins if surgery is indicated.
How does Velescope work? Step 1: The white light exam. This uses the palpation to feel for any bumps Step 2: The Velescope exam. The hand piece emits a safe light (blue light) causing tissue to become florescent and emphasize through the basement membrane. The color green indicates healthy tissue and any other color indicates unhealthy tissue. Velscope exams generally take between 2-3 minutes. If any abnormality is found, a surgical biopsy may be recommended where the condition of the tissue can be diagnosed. The worst case scenario is oral cancer, however with the aid of a Velscope exam, most cases are caught early enough before abnormality.
How to treat Oral Cancer? A dentist can determine the stage of disease to plan the right treatment for you. Oral cancer is a very serious condition that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. The best treatment, however, is early detection. Diagnosing cancer at its earliest stages significantly reduces treatment time and increases the prognosis dramatically. So, catch it before it spreads & get checked today! For more information please call our office at anytime (781) 860-7700. Or e-mail us at [email protected]
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