Does your dental office screen for oral cancer?
Both dentists and hygienists play a critical role in detecting oral cancer. There are over 23,000 patients diagnosed with oral cancer annually with roughly 5,300 dying of this disease every year!!! The most common form of oral cancer is Squamous cell carcinoma which accounts for 90% of malignant pathology. Some other common oral cancers include melanoma, salivary gland tumors, lymphoma and mesenchymal tumors. Oral cancer can effect all ages however; historically it was thought to be a disease that occurs in older population with an average age of 63 at time of diagnosis. Recently, patients under 40 years of age have been increasing in oral cancer incidence.
There are several risks factors that have been identified that contribute to oral cancer occurrence. Still holding the #1 risk factor is tobacco use; the risk increases 8 times then that of non-smokers. Alcohol is a risk factor that increases when consuming dark liquors. When an individual uses both tobacco and alcohol together on a regular basis it increases their risk oral cancer by 22%. HPV (Human papillomavirus) has been clearly linked to the development of oropharyngeal carcinoma. This type of oral cancer usually effects the tonsils and base of the tongue. The most common location for many other oral cancers include the lateral border of the tongue and floor of the mouth.
Early diagnosis is vital to increase the survival rate for a person with oral cancer. There are several diagnostic tools that allow the dental professional to detect oral cancer lesions. The 3 most common are the Oral CDX Brush Biopsy, ViziLite and VELscope. We here at Hastings Family Dental Care make sure that each adult patient has their oral cavity inspected both with palpation and visualization and is informed of any concerns that are found. It is vital to maintain regular 6 month appointments with your dental office to screen for oral cancer.
As research continues along with technology it is our hope that there will be a decrease in the morbidity and mortality rates associated with oral cancer.