Oral Cancer and the Importance of Early Detection

Cancer is a serious health condition that a high percentage of all people are going to experience at some point. One of the most often detected forms of cancer is oral cancer, referring to any cancer that is found on the tongue, lips, gums, cheeks, pharynx, roof of the mouth, or base of the mouth. While this mortifying disease is diagnosed in tens of thousands of individuals every single year, if detected in its earliest stages, patients are going to enjoy a much longer and happier life.

There are a few different risk factors that are going to put an individual at a much higher risk of oral cancer. One of the current most important causes is the smoking of tobacco products. This includes all cigarette and cigar smokers who can be as much as 6 times more prone to develop oral cancer. Those who frequently use smokeless tobacco can be up to 50 times more likely to develop cancer of the cheeks, lips, and lining of the gums. There is also an increased risked for those that excessively drink alcohol, have a family history of cancer, or are exposed to the sun without protection for long periods of time.

The 10-year survival rate for those with oral cancer is as high as 41 percent, yet this requires that an individual detects and treats the cancerous cells at a very early stage. Individuals who believes they may be at risk for oral cancer should stay aware of some of the symptoms that may be forming. The most common is lesions or other wounds in the mouth that do not heal after two weeks. Other signs may be soreness in the mouth or face, a chronic sore throat, ear pain, severe weight loss, unexplained numbness in the face, and red or white patches in the mouth.

Oral cancer is most often caught in its earliest stages when individuals regularly seek out thorough oral examinations with an experienced dentist. The traditional way in which oral cancer was diagnosed and tested was with biopsies or thick dyes that were used in the mouth. Recent advances allow some dentists to use a highly effective new tool called the VELscope.

The VELscope system works as an early detection for cancer by emitting green, yellow, and red lights into the mouth in order to pick up any abnormalities. The process often takes less than 2 minutes and has a very high rate of success in detecting cancerous cells.

The key to fighting oral cancer is by detecting this devastating medical condition before it spreads or becomes too severe. In order to do this, everyone should make regular appointments with an experienced dentist at least twice a year and request a thorough oral examination for any abnormalities.