Risk Factors for the Development of Oral Cancer Include:
- Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoking – Smokers are six times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancers.
- Use of smokeless tobacco products (for example, dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco) – Use of these products increase the risk of cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol – Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in non-drinkers.
- Family history of cancer
- Excessive exposure to the sun – especially at a young age
- Biological factors include viruses and fungi – The human papilloma virus, particularly HPV16 (Learn more about HPV here)
- Minor factors such as lichen planus, and inflammatory disease of the oral soft tissues
- It is important to note that more than 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally.
Oral Cancer Facts
Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer among men. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of other cancers. In 2010 close to 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 40,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. For further information please visit www.velscope.com
Why We Use VELscope
We understand that early detection is crucial to long term survival. VELscope is the two-minute exam that could save your life! This exam doesn’t require any rinses, stains, or discomfort. We have added the VELscope to our diagnostic protocol to help with early detection of dangerous lesions that otherwise would have gone undetected by the naked eye. The VELscope uses a blue light that shines into the mouth and uses the natural fluorescence in the soft tissues of your mouth. This fluorescence allows the dental professional to see diseased tissue not visible with the naked eye. The VELscope helps us to discover oral disease BEFORE it can be seen under ordinary light. One of the VELscope system’s most important tasks is to help identify areas that might, if not identified and treated, progress to oral cancer. The statistics below, from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER Database, 1999-2006, are a compelling argument for regular VELscope exams:
- Found early, while still Localized (confined to the primary site), oral cancer’s five-year survival rate is good: about 83%. Only 33% of all oral cancer discoveries fall into this category.
- Found while Regional (progressed to regional lymph nodes) the five-year survival rate drops significantly, to about 55%. Approximately 46% of all oral cancer discoveries are Regional.
- Found late, oral cancer’s five-year survival rate is poor: approximately 32%. This accounts for approximately 14% of all oral cancer findings.
Clearly, finding oral cancer in its early stages is key to survival. The VELscope Vx offers hope for the early discovery of oral precancers and cancers, by providing your dentist or hygienist with visual information that may not be apparent under ordinary light.
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