Oral cancer screening is always an important part of routine preventive care visits with Dr. Cranham. Oral cancer is treatable with a high cure rate when it is caught in the early stages but it is still considered a growing health issue. Without routine screening, patients may not realize they have oral cancer until it has progressed due to the nature of the disease and lack of symptoms until late stage development. Unfortunately, the success rate for treatment and curing the disease drops significantly in the later stages. This makes annual oral cancer screenings crucial to maintaining both oral and overall good health. Dr. Cranham now offers enhanced screening as an additional service for patients who are at risk or show signs of oral cancer.
Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
Are you at risk of getting oral cancer? While the actual cause has not been discovered, there are many risk factors that will increase your chances of getting it. The main risk factors are heavy tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption. It has been recently discovered that the HPV16 virus is major risk factor as well. Men are more likely than women to develop oral cancer and it is rarely seen in people younger than 45 years of age. Other risk factors include:
- Too much sun exposure that leads to lip cancer
- Dentures that cause irritation due to poor fit (especially in combination with alcohol and tobacco use)
- Poor oral hygiene (especially in combination with alcohol and tobacco use)
- Previous cancer in head or neck
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor diet and nutrition (especially a diet low in fruits and vegetables)
- Tobacco use (smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes as well as chewing tobacco)
- A combination of heavy alcohol consumption and heavy tobacco use
- Being male
- Being over the age of 45
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Early detection is very important to successfully treat oral cancer. Many of the early signs and symptoms can be confuse with other benign, common dental issues. If you notice any of the following symptoms, especially if they last longer than a few weeks, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Cranham to get screened for oral cancer.
- Sudden weight loss
- Red or white smooth sores in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing, biting, chewing or moving tongue or jaw
- Hoarseness or change in voice
- Loose teeth or change in denture fit
- Constant dry throat or feeling that something is stuck in throat
Oral Cancer Screening
Dr. Cranham now offers enhanced oral cancer screening with the incorporation of the VELscope® Vx Oral Assessment System. This non invasive technology is an important addition to oral cancer screening, providing 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. Not a replacement for the traditional mouth and neck exam used to detect oral cancers, this technology enhances the exam and enables Dr. Cranham to provide more accurate diagnosis when tissue is damaged by disease.
Dr. Cranham offers VELscope® oral cancer screening for $45.00.