While there is no way to prevent oral cancers, there are ways to lower your risk of developing them. An oral cancer screening test to detect early signs of cancer is on the list of ways to lower your risk.
Are there dentists who offer oral cancer screening in Lancaster County and nearby areas? Yes, Susquehanna Dental Arts, located in Columbia, PA, uses the VELscope VX Enhanced Oral Assessment System. VELscope helps dentists and clinicians to find oral precursor malignant lesions.
There are about 54,000 cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. The organization estimates deaths from an oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer at more than 11,000. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing an oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer is about 1 in 60 (1.7%) for men and 1 in 140 (0.71%) for women.
Read further to learn more about oral cancer screenings, risk factors for oral cancer, and other means of prevention.
What Takes Place During an Oral Cancer Screening?
At our Lancaster County office, the oral cancer screening involves using a noninvasive LED light, which we shine into a patient’s mouth. This LED fiberoptic light helps dentists detect small lesions and tissue abnormalities. Abnormal tissues will appear as a different color than healthy tissues in the mouth.
Note: If suspicious or abnormal spots are found, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for a traditional scalpel biopsy.
A biopsy is the only way to confirm the presence of oropharyngeal cancer, but the VELscope screening may alert the dentist to tissue that should be biopsied. Some cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma in the mouth, can be cured if discovered and treated at an early stage and before it has spread. This is the most common type of oral cancer.
What are Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?
Family history and age (over age 55) can impact your risk of getting mouth cancer. These are unchangeable. However, the following risk factors for oral cancer are avoidable:
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol use
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- Exposure to sunlight
- Fanconi anemia
- Dyskeratosis congenita
- Loose-fitting dentures
Ways to Help Lower Your Risk
In addition to making lifestyle changes to remove any of the risk factors listed above, you should set up an appointment for the oral cancer screening light treatment at Susquehanna Dental Arts.
Also, routine dental exams and yearly dental x-rays may also help prevent mouth cancer.
A screening for oral cancer presents the opportunity for you to speak with your dentist about any concerns you have regarding mouth cancer or changes you’ve noticed related to your mouth. Susquehanna Dental Arts provides comprehensive holistic dentistry services. We are committed to listening and understanding your concerns and strive to answer any questions you may have.