Oral Cancer Examinations
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, mouth cancers will be newly diagnosed in about 132 new individuals each day in the United States alone, a total of over 48,000 new cases per year. The American Cancer Society reports that over 9,500 people die from oral cancer every year in the U.S.
When found at early stages of development, oral cancer patients have an 80 to 90% survival rate. Unfortunately, the majority of cases are found as late-stage cancers, accounting for the high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis.
Clearly, finding oral cancer in its early stages is key to survival. Our practice incorporates routine intra and extraoral head and neck exams into your hygiene appointments to screen for oral cancer and a host of other oral diseases.
The oral cancer examination is completely painless. The doctors at the Farber Center look for abnormalities and feel your face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. Some of the signs that will be investigated are red patches and sores. Red patches on the floor of the mouth or the front of the tongue, and bleeding sores that fail to heal can be indicative of cancerous changes. Finally, soreness, lumps, or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth, can signal pathological signs and will be carefully examined.
In addition, routine VELscope examinations can improve oral-cancer survival rates because the VELscope Vx system assists in early detection—potentially saving lives through less invasive, more effective treatment.
Our doctors recommend using the VELscope system annually.
Our practice also incorporates the OralCDx® BrushTest®:
The BrushTest is a quick and painless method to test the common small white and red oral spots that most people have in their mouth at one time or another. The BrushTest is used to determine if a common oral spot contains abnormal cells (known as dysplasia) that, if left alone for several years, may develop into oral cancer.
What is the BrushTest?
The BrushTest consists of two components:
- A specially designed brush that a doctor uses to painlessly obtain a sample of an oral spot. The BrushTest requires no anesthesia, causes no pain, and minimal or no bleeding.
- An analysis of that sample at a specialized laboratory where specially trained pathologists use highly sophisticated computers to help detect abnormal cells. A complete report is transmitted to our office.
When do we use a BrushTest?
The BrushTest is used to test the common, harmless-appearing, small white and red spots found by our doctors and dental hygienists to determine if they contain precancerous cells. Most people will have a small oral spot like this at one time or another and they can be seen in up to 10% of carefully examined adults.
Is the BrushTest accurate?
The BrushTest is very accurate as confirmed in many published clinical studies. It has been used by over 30,000 U.S. doctors, and more than 10,000 precancerous spots have been detected with the BrushTest—long before they could become cancerous.
How the BrushTest Can Save Lives
Most people will have tiny white or red spots in their mouth at one time or another. Although most of these spots are harmless, only laboratory testing like the BrushTest can determine which of them contain abnormal cells. About 96% of small, harmless-appearing oral spots that are evaluated by the BrushTest will not contain any abnormal cells. If precancerous cells are found in an oral spot, it typically takes several years before they can cause any harm. During this time the spot can usually be easily and completely removed.
If you have any questions about oral cancer or our testing procedures, please call our office or ask the periodontist or dental hygienist at the time of your visit.
Important Links for More Information on the Mouth/Body Connection
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) has excellent information on periodontal disease and systemic health. https://www.perio.org/consumer/other-diseases?utm_source=periohome&utm_medium=slide&utm_content=diseases&utm_campaign=consumer
The AAP also regularly updates lists of news releases related to new scientific research regarding links between periodontal disease and other conditions: https://www.perio.org/recent-press-releases