Oral Cancer: Why it is Important to be Screened
By Mina Levi, DDS, 07/17/2014
You may have noticed at your last regular dental visit that someone asked you if you have had an oral cancer screening in the last few years. Oral cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form on the lips, oral cavity or oropharynx. Without noticeable symptoms, you may not think it is necessary to have an oral cancer screening. However, by the time physical symptoms appear, the oral cancer can be progressed too far to be removed easily. In this article, we discuss oral cancer and the importance of oral cancer screenings such as the Vizilite test available with Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS.
About Oral Cancer
Most people are surprised to learn that one American dies every hour from oral cancer; a death rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 40 years. In fact, recent statistics published by the American Cancer Society indicate that while the incidence and death rates for cancers overall has decreased, the incidence of oral cancer has increased by 5.5% and the death rate has increased by 1.5%. Oral cancer is far too often discovered in late stage development, the primary reason for the consistently high death rate. Oral cancer treatment often results in disfiguring effects on patients, and can seriously compromise their quality of life. Early detection and diagnosis can make a tremendous difference in life expectancy; oral cancer is 90% curable when found in its early stages. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, III and IV, leading to a five-year survival rate of 57%.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening tests look for cancer in the mouth and throat before a person has any symptoms. This makes it possible to identify cancer at an early enough stage to start successful treatment. Screening tests are given when there are no symptoms, so it is important to keep in mind that suspicion of cancer is not the reason for the test. For those who are non-smokers, it is suggested that an oral cancer screening is performed once every two years. For tobacco or recreational drug users, it is important to have the test performed once per year since it is a higher risk.
The Vizilite oral cancer screening test is an easy and quick system that takes about two minutes to complete and highlights any cancerous or pre-cancerous tissues. The Vizilite system gives no false negatives, meaning that every lesion identified by Vizilite is either cancerous or pre-cancerous. The Vizilite test also significantly reduces the number of false positive lesions identified during standard visual examinations, limiting the number of biopsies that need to be performed.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the Vizilite oral cancer screening test or oral cancer, visit Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS on the web at www.minalevidds.com or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.
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