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Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer Exam in Yonkers & Bronxville, NY 

Oral cancer is often deemed the “forgotten disease,” because it kills more people than testicular cancer, cervical cancer and cancer of the brain each year and receives little publicity in return.  Each year, over 30,000 Americans contract oral cancer, and only 57% of these people will live for more than five years without treatment.

Many people believe that if they abstain from tobacco and alcohol use, oral cancer will not affect them.  Tobacco and alcohol use does contribute to oral cancer; however, 25% of those diagnosed abstain from both substances.

The best way to stay protected from oral cancer is to get annual oral cancer screenings at your scheduled dental exam.  Most dentists perform an oral cancer exam during a regular dental checkup.

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Reasons for oral cancer examinations

It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption.  Your dentist can provide literature and education on making lifestyle changes and smoking cessation.

When oral cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, treatment is generally very effective.  Any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, mouth or surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as quickly as possible.  During the oral cancer exam, the dentist and dental hygienist will be scrutinizing the maxillofacial and oral regions carefully for signs of pathologic changes.

Common Signs & Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

  • Red patches and sores – Red patches on the floor of the mouth, the front and sides of the tongue, white or pink patches which fail to heal and slow healing sores that bleed easily can be indicative of pathologic (cancerous) changes.
  • Leukoplakia – This is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, or may become cancerous if treatment is not sought.
  • Lumps – Soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathological problems.

 There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:

  • Lips
  • Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Salivary Glands
  • Oropharyngeal Region (throat)
  • Gums
  • Face

VELscope Oral Cancer Screening

The FDA-approved VELscope® offers dentists another examination tool to help detect oral cancer in its earliest stages.  The VELscope® is a blue excitation lamp, which highlights precancerous and cancerous cell changes.

How does the VELscope® work?

The VELscope® uses Fluorescence Visualization (FV) in an exciting new way.  Essentially, bright blue light is shone into the mouth to expose changes and lesions that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.  One of the biggest difficulties in diagnosing oral cancer is that its symptoms look similar to symptoms of less serious problems.  The VELscope® System affords the dentist important insight as to what is happening beneath the surface.

The healthy soft tissue of the mouth naturally absorbs the VELscope® frequency of blue light. Healthy areas beneath the surface of the soft tissue show up green, and the problem areas become much darker.

Here are some of the advantages of using the VELscope® System:

  • Can be combined with digital photography.
  • Detects lesions, white and red patches.
  • Detects problem areas that cannot be seen under white light.
  • Exposes precancerous and cancerous tissue.
  • FDA-approved.
  • Helps dentists check that diseased soft tissue is completely removed.
  • Helps diagnose oral cancer in its earliest stages, exponentially increasing the chance of survival.
  • Quick, painless examinations.

How is the VELscope® examination performed?

The VELscope® examination literally takes only two or three minutes.  It is a painless and noninvasive procedure that saves many lives every single year.

Here is a brief overview of what a VELscope® examination is like:

Initially, the dentist will perform a regular visual examination of the whole lower face.  This includes the glands, tongue, cheeks and palate as well as the teeth.  The dentist provides special eyewear to protect the integrity of the retinas.  The lights in the room are dimmed to allow a clear view of the oral cavity.

Lesions and other indicators of oral cancer are easily noticeable because they appear much darker under the specialized light.

If symptoms are noted, the dentist might take a biopsy to determine whether or not this is oral cancer.   The results of the biopsy dictate the best course of action from there. Otherwise, another oral cancer screening is performed in one year’s time.

Schedule Your Next Exam with Bronxville, NY Dentist, Dr. Bobinski

If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer screening or the VELscope® system, please contact our Bronxville dentist.