The main goal of oral cancer screening is to identify the disease early where there is a greater chance of a cure. Dr. John Cranham offers oral cancer screening with the incorporation of the VELscope® Vx Oral Assessment System at his Norfolk, VA area dentist office.

Dr. Cranham believes oral cancer screening is an important part of your routine preventive care visits. Oral cancer is a growing health concern since many do not realize they have it until the late stages. It is very treatable with a high cure rate when discovered in its early stages.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

There are a lot of oral cancer risk factors, many of which can be controlled. The main risks are tobacco use and alcohol consumption. The risks are even higher if you combine heavy alcohol consumption with heavy tobacco use. Recently, the HPV16 virus has been added to the list as a major risk factor. This strain is also related to the development of cervical cancer. Other risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • Being over the age of 45
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Taking immunosuppressive drugs
  • Previous cancer is the head or neck
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Poor diet including lack of fruits and vegetable
  • Too much sun exposure (can lead to lip cancer)
  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Any tobacco use (smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars as well as chewing tobacco)
  • Heavy alcohol abuse
  • Having the HPV16 virus

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oftentimes oral cancer starts out as a growth or sore in the mouth that will not go away. People who use tobacco of any kind and heavy drinkers are more likely to get oral cancer and should be persistent with their visits to our Norfolk, VA area dentist office for screening. The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Finding it hard to talk, chew or swallow
  • Finding it hard to move your tongue or jaw
  • Sore throat, hoarse voice or change in voice
  • Sores or ulcers on the face, mouth or neck that bleed and don’t heal within 2 weeks
  • Swelling that persists for over 3 weeks
  • Velvety white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth
  • A feeling of something being stuck in your throat
  • Lumps, rough spots or sores on the lips and areas inside the mouth
  • Unexplained loose teeth
  • Changes in denture fit

Oral Cancer Screening with VELscope® Vx Oral Assessment System

This noninvasive technology is an important addition to oral cancer screening because it provides a more in depth view of tissue changes that can signal possible cancer. VELscope® is a hand held device used to examine the mouth and tongue which uses blue-spectrum light to highlight irregular tissue that the naked eye may not notice. This is important because there are often no signs or symptoms of oral cancer in the early stages.

This technology enhances your oral exam and enables Dr. Cranham to provide more accurate diagnosis when tissue is damaged by disease. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or find that you have any of the above risk factors, you should add this additional service to your regular dental visits.

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