Albertville and Gadsden, Alabama
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer involves the soft tissue of the oral cavity, tongue, cheeks, throat, tonsils, or any other part of the mouth. Oral cancer occurs twice as often in men, especially for those older than 40 years of age. Although oral cancer can strike anyone, smoking, use of chewing tobacco, alcohol consumption, and human papillomavirus (HPV) increases one’s chance of developing oral cancer.
Why are oral cancer screenings important?
As with any disease, early detection is key to treatment and outcome. Early detection of oral cancer is also important to help prevent or slow the spread of cancer to other soft tissue of the face and neck. If oral cancer is caught early, it has shown to have nearly an 80-90% survival rate. On the downside, if caught in later stages, oral cancer has a high death rate. The good news is that the dentists at Wall Street Dentistry can easily detect oral cancer even before the patient recognizes any symptoms.
How is oral cancer detected?
Routine dental screenings are the most effective way to detect oral cancer. At Wall Street Dentistry, we use the Velscope device to detect early stages or oral cancer, other tissue abnormalities, and even pre-cancerous tissue of the mouth. Velscope is a special type of fluorescent light that shows abnormalities in the soft tissue of the oral cavity. Using Velscope is a key part of detecting oral cancer since the light is sensitive to abnormalities in the soft tissue. Without the use of Velscope, neither you nor the dentist may be able to determine whether or not you have oral cancer by a visual exam alone. An exam using Velscope is painless and can be performed within minutes. The dentists at Wall Street Dentistry use Velscope, as well as other methods, for detecting oral cancer. A visual screening of the patient’s oral cavity, neck, and throat, along with gentle palpations by hand can help determine some abnormalities or lumps that may be present.
What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
Oral cancer typically presents symptoms in the later stages. Symptoms may vary, depending on the exact location of your oral cancer. Symptoms may include, lumps, lesions, or breaks in the soft tissue of the mouth. These symptoms are typically not painful at first, but can lead to more severe symptoms. Some patients experience difficulty swallowing, hoarseness sounds when speaking, unusual or unexpected bleeding from the mouth, or lumps or growths in the mouth or throat that may be painful. Early detection of oral cancer is vitally important for a higher survival rate. We encourage you not to wait until you have noticeable symptoms of oral cancer.
How can I prevent oral cancer?
There are ways to help reduce your chances of developing oral cancer, such as not using tobacco or drinking alcohol. Also, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, good oral hygiene, and routine dental cleanings and exams may help reduce one’s likelihood of developing oral cancer. Although, some experts believe oral cancer may even be hereditary. Therefore, there are always exceptions, and even seemingly healthy patients could develop oral cancer, which is why oral cancer screenings are important for everyone.
What happens if I have oral cancer?
If oral cancer is suspected, the dentist may need to take a biopsy for further testing. If confirmed that you have oral cancer, the dentist will discuss your options for treatment. Keep in mind that treatment will vary for each patient and will be dependent on the location and severity of your oral cancer. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, and sometimes combinations of treatments are necessary. The dentist will discuss with you the options to best treat your case of oral cancer. The dentists and staff at Wall Street Dentistry care about your health and will make certain to address your questions and concerns about oral cancer, its treatment, or outcome.
Remember, oral cancer can be treatable if caught early. Do not wait until you experience symptoms. Our oral cancer screening could save your life. Call our office today (256) 878-0525 for an appointment. Wall Street Dentistry is located in Albertville and proudly serves patients in the Boaz and Guntersville, Alabama areas.