Oral Cancer Screening

Early Detection Saves Lives

Oral cancer is not a rare disease. Approximately 37,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer every year in the US. It kills one person every hour of every day, and over 100 new individuals will be diagnosed with it each day. The good news is that it can often be found early in its development, through a simple, painless, and quick screening.

Who should get screened?

Every adult. Oral cancer can often be caught early, even as a pre-cancer. With early detection, survival rates are high and the side effects from treatment are at their lowest. Like other screenings you engage in such as cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast examinations, oral cancer screenings are an effective means of finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages. Make them part of your annual health check-ups.

What are the risk factors?

There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which is now the leading cause or oral cancers in the US, and the same one, which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. The fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population is young, healthy, non-smokers due to the connection to this virus.

Early indicators:

  • Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Any sore which does not heal within 14 days
  • Hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time

Advanced indicators:

  • A sensation that something is stuck in your throat
  • Numbness in the oral region
  • Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Ear pain which occurs on one side only
  • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, still does not heal
  • A lump or thickening which develops in the mouth or on the neck

Ask us about VELscope®

VELscope is a revolutionary hand-held device that provides us with an easy-to-use adjunctive mucosal examination system for the early detection of abnormal tissue. The patented VELscope technology platform was developed in collaboration with the British Columbia Cancer Agency and MD Anderson Cancer Center, with funding provided in part by the National Institute of Health. It is based on the direct visualization of tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occurs when abnormalities are present.