When it comes to early oral cancer detection, the old “early” is too late
Oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day in North America. Unlike several other cancers, the survival rate for Oral Cancer has remained relatively constant for decades.
The overall survival rate for oral and oropharyngeal cancer is currently only 52% but, if the patients are diagnosed “earlier”, the survival rate jumps to 80%.
The high mortality rate associated with oral cancer is caused particularly by:
- the fact that it is usually found late in its development
- patients’ lack of regular oral examinations
- delays in seeking treatment.
In the past, late detection was related to the fact there were few screening technique advances made to help oral health practitioners detect early precancerous changes to the oral and orapharyngeal tissues.
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Who’s at risk?
Tobacco use, alcohol consumption and other chemical irritants are suspected factors in the initiation of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. However, it has recently been shown that exposure to a particular virus, HPV, has also been a factor.
There are new statistics showing that 25% of newly diagnosed oral cancers do not fit the traditional high risk profile.
VELscope is a sophisticated but simple oral assessment system. It consists of a wireless, handheld scope that uses your oral tissue’s natural fluorescence to help us discover abnormalities that might otherwise have gone undetected. There is no staining dye, no surgical biopsy, and no invasive techniques with this screening tool.
Because early stage lesions are difficult to recognize with the human eye under normal examination conditions, VELscope helps us detect early changes to oral tissues, making early diagnosis easier.
Approved by Health Canada, VELscope helps us discover oral mucosal abnormalities such as:
- Viral, fungal and bacterial infections
- Inflammation from a variety of causes
- Squamous papillomas
- Salivary gland tumors
- Cancer and pre-cancer
Technology has it’s benefits
As with most heath issues, the sooner you seek treatment the more likely your treatment will be successful. That’s why we recommend twice yearly dental examinations. Screening tests for cancer and other abnormalities are given when you have no symptoms. Once symptoms appear, the cancer or other problems may have begun to spread or grow.
With today’s technology and on-going research to understand more about oral cancer, the new “early” is helping us keep a close watch on the condition of your oral health.