Watch Your Mouth (for Oral Cancer)
Dr. Jack W. Behn
Elite Dental and Aesthetics
131 NW 100th Ave
Plantation, FL 33324
Did you know that a 5-minute oral cancer screening can save your life? Oral cancer is a deadly cancer – once diagnosed, slightly more than half of the patients will be alive in 5 years. One American dies every hour from oral cancer.
I urge patients to pay attention to changes in their mouths and to make sure that their dentist is performing an oral cancer screening every year. See your dentist if you see any red or white sores in your mouth that persist for over 2 weeks. Other signs are persistent sore throat, earaches, hoarseness, enlarged lymph nodes, pain when swallowing, and unexplained weight loss. Some people have no signs or symptoms.
Oral cancer screenings are more important now than ever because oral cancer is on the rise. In 2012, the link between human papillomavirus (also called HPV) and oral cancer was discovered. Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. The same types of HPV that infect the genital areas can infect the mouth and throat. HPV version 16 is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women, and now we know its association with oral cancer. Traditionally, oral cancers were believed to be caused by the use of tobacco and alcohol, but today we are seeing more and more oral cancers caused by HPV.
If you think you may have oral HPV, the OraRisk® HPV test is a salivary DNA test that identifies the type(s) of oral HPV. OraRisk®HPV enables the clinician to establish increased risk for oral cancer and determine appropriate referral and monitoring conditions.
In our office, we use the VELscope Vx device to screen for oral cancer. The VELscope’s distinctive blue-spectrum light allows us to discover oral abnormalities before they’re visible to the naked eye.
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 are from treatment are at their lowest.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Get your screening today!