Oral cancer is a serious condition and it often goes undiagnosed because patients do not always visit the dentist when they are supposed to. Oral cancer is considered cancerous cells that grow in the mouth, cheeks, lips, tongue, throat, or sinuses. If oral cancer is not diagnosed in a timely manner and handled quickly, it can be fatal. Fortunately, a simple tool called a VelScope can quickly and easily identify cancerous cells and ‘abnormal looking cells within the mouth even in the earliest stages.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
If you are concerned that you may have oral cancer or it runs in your family history, it is important that you keep up with your regular dental checkups. Downtown Dental Centre is proactive about checking each patient for cancer with the VelScope technology.
Some of the symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Numbness in your mouth, face, or neck
- White patches in your mouth
- Thickened spots in your mouth or on your lips or gums
- Sores in your mouth, on your neck or face
- Continuous sore throat
- Weight loss
- Unexplained change in position of teeth
- Difficulty talking, swallowing, chewing, and moving your jaw
Should I Be Worried about Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is serious and everyone should be proactive about it. There are some risk factors that do make you more susceptible to the condition than others. For example, smokers are more likely to develop oral cancer than someone who does not smoke.
Other risk factors include: some STDs, family history of the condition, high alcohol consumption, and too much exposure to the sun.
The Best Technology
At Downtown Dental Centre, we take oral cancer seriously and because of that, we have only the best technology to help us diagnose it. We utilize a VelScope to locate and detect any “abnormal cells” or oral cancer within your mouth. The VelScope is our trusted and reliable cancer screening system.
A VelScope is a handheld device that allows our dentists to quickly look in your mouth and determine whether any cancerous or abnormal cells exist. The entire test takes about two minutes and can be done during your normal dental examination.
The device shines a bright blue light into your mouth that will cause any abnormal tissues to light up and turn fluorescent in colour. This light allows our dentists to pinpoint exactly where the problem area is and provide prompt treatment. It is important that oral cancer is discovered as early as possible so that treatment can begin. In fact, if oral cancer is caught and treated in the early stages, the survival rate is extremely high.
It is also important to note that only a ‘biopsy’ of the abnormal cells can determine whether or not you do in fact have cancer! Often the biopsies come back negative for cancer! That being said, it is better to be safe than sorry. Wouldn’t you agree?
How Will the Cancer Be Treated?
If you do have oral cancer, our dentists will discuss your options with you. Depending on the progression of the cancer, you may need to undergo a quick or extensive treatment. Typically, oral cancer is treated with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to eradicate the cancerous cells from within your mouth.