By Dr. Janhavi Rane,
President & CEO,
Rane’s Dental Offices
Thanks to actor Michael Douglas’ unfortunate diagnosis last year, the topic of oral cancer is finally seeing more light amongst the public. Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer — which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheek, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat) — can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
Each year, more than 30,000 new cases of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx are diagnosed and over 8,000 deaths due to oral cancer occur. Oral cancer can form in any part of the mouth or throat. Most oral cancers begin in the tongue and in the floor of the mouth. Anyone can get oral cancer, but the risk is higher if you are male, over age 40, use tobacco or alcohol or have a history of head or neck cancer. Frequent sun exposure is also a risk for lip cancer. Smoking and other tobacco use are associated with 70-80% of oral cancer cases. Heavy alcohol use is another high-risk activity associated with oral cancer and so is the Human Papilloma Virus.
According to the American Cancer Society, oral cancer occurs almost as frequently as leukemia and claims more lives than melanoma or cervical cancer. Oral cancer’s incidence is rising among women, young people, and non-smokers.
Patients with oral cancer have a poor prognosis, and the 5-year survival rate is approximately 50%. Perhaps the single most important reason for this is the fact that oral cancers continue to be diagnosed in advanced stages. Methods used to treat oral cancers (surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy) are disfiguring and costly.
Research studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the survival rate for oral cancer patients increases dramatically when the diagnosis is established in early stages. Early detection is key to increasing the survival rate for these cancers
Oral cancer can spread quickly and an oral cancer exam can identify early signs of this disease. Be sure to tell your dentist if you notice persistent changes in your mouth or throat, such as sores, swelling, or numbness, or if you have difficulty eating or swallowing.
At Rane’s Exclusively Yours Dental, we continually seek advances to ensure that we are providing the optimum level of oral healthcare to our patients. We are concerned about oral cancer and screen every patient. To aid us in early detection of oral abnormalities we have incorporated VELscope into our oral screening standard of care at a very minimal cost and some dental insurances will even pay for it. The exam is quick and painless, and can be done during your regular dental check-up. The FDA-approved VELscope light can detect oral cancer that the naked eye can’t see. VELscope’s distinctive blue-spectrum light when focused in the mouth causes healthy tissues in the mouth to fluoresce in distinctive patterns — patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease. Abnormal tissues show up darker under the light. We find that using VELscope for an oral cancer examination improves the ability to identify suspicious areas at their earliest stages. VELscope is similar to proven early detection procedures for other cancers such as mammograms, Pap smears, and PSA and is recommended once a year by the American Cancer Society. Early detection of pre-cancerous tissue can minimize or eliminate the potentially disfiguring effects of oral cancer and possibly save your life. If you have never had a VELscope exam or have questions regarding oral cancer please call our office today. Remember, one person in America dies from oral cancer every hour and early detection is key!
Rane’s Exclusively Yours Dental (Main Office). Plainsboro Shopping Center (Beside Super Fresh and Dunkin Donuts). 10 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro. 609-275-1777. www.ranesdental.com
Rane’s Dental Aesthetics (A Dental Specialty Extension for Orthodontics and Periodontics). New Plainsboro Village (Beside 1st Constitution Bank), 11 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro. 609-750 1666.