An Oral Cancer Screening Can Save Your Life
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and that means taking some time to discuss one of the deadliest diseases I encounter as a dentist.
We’ve got quite a bit of ground to cover today (and yes, there will be a quiz), so without further ado, let’s get started.
A 30,000 Foot View
Each year in the United States, about 48,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed.
According to the New Jersey State Cancer Registry, over 1,000 of those cases are in New Jersey, and 77 of those cases call Essex County home. That is 77 of our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends and coworkers.
The saddest part of this information – aside from the pain and loss of life that often come with an oral cancer diagnosis – is that when it comes to oral cancer, those deaths were largely preventable.
Consider the fact that over 75% of oral cancer diagnoses in the United States are in patients with a history of smoking cigarettes. By the time that cancer has been discovered, you have just a fifty-fifty chance of living five years beyond the diagnosis.
But oral cancer isn’t deadly primarily because it is a type of cancer: It is so deadly because it’s usually detected very late in its development. More often than not, oral cancer spreads – or metastasizes – to the lymph nodes, and by the time this happens your chances of beating cancer drop dramatically.
You need to be able to treat oral cancer right away, which is why a dental examination and oral cancer screening from your Millburn dentist is your best option for stopping cancer in its tracks.
The Proverbial Ounce of Prevention
Multiple studies point to the viability of early detection as the most effective way to combat oral cancer, and the best way to detect cancer is with an oral cancer screening.
I can perform such a screening during a routine teeth cleaning and dental exam, and all in the span of just one easy afternoon appointment.
My practice uses a special piece of cancer scanning equipment called ViziLite that can help me detect abnormal, cancerous cells in ways that the naked eye just can’t see.
ViziLite works by using a chemically-activated light which combines with a special mouthwash and allows me to see cancerous cells right there in my Millburn dentist’s office! It makes early detection much easier by giving me an extra tool to get the job done right.
If I have detected any cancerous cells, I will then perform a plaque biopsy to achieve more accurate results. This sample of plaque – which is a sticky film created by mouth bacteria which can form along the base of your teeth – is sent to a special laboratory that will analyze the sample in great detail.
But because you have detected the oral cancer early, your survival rate is much improved, and your treatment options will be much, much more effective. In fact, oral cancers found early and in certain parts of the mouth have an over 95% survival rate!
You won’t need to beat the odds when the odds are in your favor, and that is precisely what an oral cancer screening and early detection can do for your or for a loved one!
Call For The Cure
No oral cancer treatment is 100% foolproof – but then, very few things in this life come with as-seen-on-TV guarantees.
But the honest truth is that if you come to your New Jersey dentist for a dental exam (which you should be doing every six months, preventing problems like this from ever becoming problems in the first place), then you have done the best thing possible when it comes to fighting oral cancer.
My technology and expertise will go wasted on you, however, if you fail to make what could very well be a life-saving appointment. The entire oral screening process is quick and painless, and can give you the answers you deserve to get the treatment that you need in the event of a cancer diagnosis.
Regardless of how you make your appointment, you must make it, and together we can get to the bottom of what’s really going on with your smile!