More than 50,000 Americans are expected to get oral and throat cancers this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Fortunately, Dr. Helmus uses the VELscope to help catch oral cancer in its early stages. Doing annual oral cancer screenings gives you the best chance for survival, especially if you have a higher than normal risk for oral cancer.
Continue reading to learn why we recommend all our patients have oral cancer screenings. An oral cancer screening gives you peace of mind by detecting abnormalities in the lips, mouth, and upper throat that could indicate cancer.
Oral Cancer Screening?
Risks for Oral Cancer
It’s important to understand that your oral health affects the rest of your body. If left undetected, oral cancer can spread to the rest of your body. Fortunately, our dentist will be able to discuss your risk factors for oral cancer during your next appointment. An will also give you peace of mind.
You have a higher risk for oral cancer if you:
- Used tobacco products
- Abused alcohol
- Have human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Didn’t use sun protection on the lips
- Have a family history of cancer
Even if you don’t have the above risk factors, this doesn’t exclude you from needing an. While people who smoke have a higher than normal risk for oral cancer, this doesn’t mean other people can’t get the disease. We always believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why we do oral cancer screenings annually for all patients.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Is your voice hoarse? Are there red and white patches inside your mouth? These are both signs you could have oral cancer. If you suspect you have oral cancer, call our dentist office as soon as possible. We can do an oral cancer screening to help catch cancer in its early stages.
Signs of oral cancer include:
- Red or white patches in mouth
- Bleeding sores in mouth
- Hoarse voice
- Difficulty biting and chewing
- Pain while chewing
It’s important to understand that many people don’t exhibit symptoms for oral cancer until it’s too late. We always recommend patients see us every 6 months so we can use the VELscope to check for abnormalities not yet visible to the naked eye. A routine oral examination could save your life.
How VELscope Works
While we can’t tell whether a lesion is cancerous (you’ll need a biopsy for that), we can use the VELscope to detect abnormalities not visible to the naked eye. Our dentist uses the VELscope to examine the mucosal tissues of your upper throat, mouth, and lips. It’s important to have each abnormality checked out so you can enjoy good health and peace of mind.
The VELscope works by illuminating inside your mouth so we can see the contrast between healthy tissue and abnormalities. If we find an abnormality, you’ll need a biopsy to rule out cancer. However, just because we find an abnormality doesn’t mean you have the disease.