The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 5,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2020. Roughly 1,500 Canadians will die of oral cancer in 2020. In Canada, the five-year survival rate for oral cancers is significantly higher if oral cancer is detected before it has spread. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for lip cancer is 93%, 78% for cancer on the tongue, and 75% for cancer on the floor of the mouth. If not detected until the cancer has spread beyond the lips, tongue, or floor of the mouth, those five-year survival rates drop to 48%, 63%, and 38%, respectively.
Your dentist is committed to early identification of the presence of oral cancer in their patients by providing VELscope screening in Mahogany. Dentists use VELscope technology that uses special fluorescence visualization technology to detect lesions and abnormalities in any of the soft tissues in your mouth. The most common areas for oral cancer are on the tongue, tonsils, oropharynx (the middle part of your throat), gums, and on the floor of your mouth. Early symptoms of oral cancer include: flat patches of abnormal cell growth; and canker sores that look like an ulcer and that have a depression in the centre. That depression may look white, yellow, or grey with red edges.
The VELscope is a handheld device — sometimes called a blue excitation lamp — that projects bright blue light to highlight abnormal tissue in your oral mucosa. When exposed to the blue light, the epithelial tissues and stroma in your mouth become excited. When abnormal tissues become excited, they appear very dark. ON the other hand, excited healthy tissue glows brightly under blue light. These distinctions between healthy and unhealthy tissue cells cannot be observed under standard fluorescent light. While performing VELscope screening in Copperfield, your dentist will dim the lights to permit the best possible view of your mouth and oral tissues. Your dentist will also provide you with protective glasses while using the VELscope. The process is safe, quick, painless, entirely non-invasive, and potentially life-saving.
In addition to performing VELscope screening, your dentist will perform a visual examination of your lower face, including your glands, tongue, cheeks, and palate.
You should undergo VELscope oral cancer screening at each twice-annual regular check up at a dentist near you. During your regular dental check up, the dentist will maintain the health of your teeth, then offer VELscope screening to identify any risk of oral cancer as soon as possible and to allow early intervention and treatment. Your dentist may take a biopsy of any concerning cells identified through VELscope screening and remit the biopsy for testing for the presence of cancerous cells. In the event that abnormal or cancerous cells are detected, your dentist will support you in seeing a specialist for follow-up and treatment.
VELscope cancer screening is an example of treatment options that a dentist near you provides that extends beyond your teeth and gums. It is just one such example. Dentists near you are concerned about and interested in any health condition that is related to or affects any element of your mouth, jaw, neck, throat, and head. Examples of medical conditions that concern your dentist include sleep apnea, sleep (and waking) bruxism, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, snoring, headaches, and breathing difficulties.
All of those medical conditions potentially relate to your oral and dental health. At every dental appointment, you should take the opportunity to tell your dentist about symptoms affecting any of these areas so your dentist will be fully aware of your condition and potential issues affecting your oral health.