One person dies every hour from oral cancer in the U.S. alone. The five year survival rate is only 50% due to lack of early detection.
About 37,000 people in the U.S. were newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010.
Oral cancer has increased in its rate of occurrence for the fifth straight year.
Non-smokers under the age of 50 are the fastest growing group for oral cancer.
There is an 80-90% survival rate if oral cancer is found in its early stages.
What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?
It is important to note that oral cancer can go undetected in its earliest stages, mainly because it is painless and does not appear much different from your regular tissue and mouth structures. Oral cancer can also mimic common intraoral changes such as a cheek bite or canker sore. Your dental professional will evaluate any changes he or she may see in your mouth including:
white patches on the inside of the mouth (leukoplakia)
mixture of red and white patches inside the mouth (erythroleukoplakia)
brightly colored red patches inside the mouth (erythroplakia)
a scab or ulcer that won’t heal
bleeding in the mouth
swallowing difficulties, persistent hoarseness
swelling in your mouth, neck or throat
The biggest risk factor for developing oral cancer has traditionally been smoking. However, recent statistics indicate oral cancer in non-smokers is the fastest growing category. Aside from smoking, other factors that lead to oral cancer are:
sun exposure (cancer of the lip)
smokeless tobacco users
combined use of alcohol and tobacco together
exposure to HPV-16 (human papilloma virus version 16)
What is VELscope®?
VELscope ® is the only tool cleared by the FDA to aid in detection of oral lesions that the naked eye may not be able to see or differentiate. It is a safe blue light that is shone into the oral cavity. Normal tissue appears with a green hue while abnormal tissue appears dark. It is quick, easy and painless.
Is an oral cancer screening covered by my insurance?
Since dental benefits vary among providers, it is important to check to see if any types of oral cancer screenings such as the VELscope are covered. If not, the cost for a VELscope® exam in our office is $34, which is a very small price to pay.