One American dies every hour from oral cancer. Late detection of oral cancer is the primary cause that both the incidence and mortality rates of oral cancer continue to increase. It is one of the few types of cancer that has not seen a significant reduction in incidence over the past thirty years, and recent research has shown a strong association with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which can be sexually transmitted. For this reason, many oral health care professionals now believe that all individuals over the age of 18 should have at least an annual oral examination. While, age, tobacco and alcohol use are risk factors for oral cancer, more than 25% of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors.
Main Street Dental now offers VELscope technology for oral cancer screening. We find that using the VELscope along with a standard oral cancer examination improves the ability to identify suspicious areas at their earliest stages, before they are apparent to the naked eye. The VELscope is similar to proven early detection procedures for other cancers such as mammography, Pap smear, and PSA. A VELscope screening is a simple and painless examination that gives the best chance to find any oral abnormalities at the earliest possible stage, before they become cancerous. Early detection of precancerous tissue can minimize or eliminate the potentially disfiguring effects of oral cancer and possibly save your life.
- The incidence of oral cancer increased 11% in the United States in 2007
- Unlike several other cancers, the survival rate for oral cancer has remained unchanged for decades
- The overall 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is 52%, but when discovered early, it increases to 80% – 90%
- Unfortunately, only 35% of oral cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages. Why? Because there have been few advances made in screening techniques and there are significant limitations inherent to white light and chemiluminescence light examination of the oral mucosa
- Pre-malignant changes actually start below the surface, at the basement membrane. These changes may not be apparent to the naked eye until the disease progresses to the surface
The VELscope exam takes about two minutes as part of a regular hygiene checkup, involves no pain or inconvenience, and is completely safe. The exam is very affordable and may be covered under some insurance policies.