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Did you know that oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer and accounts for approximately 4% of all cancers diagnosed? Most of the oral cancer diagnoses are in

Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

Early Oral Cancer Diagnosis is Key To Survival

patients older than 45 years old. Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancers. The key to oral cancer, as in most cancers, is in early diagnosis. If diagnosed in its earliest stages, the chance for full recovery is at about 70% survival rate. The problem is that most are not diagnosed in its earliest forms, so less than half of all oral cancer patients are cured. Oral cancer also has the worst 5 year survival rate among all cancers, at about 57%.

If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement, and even death. Oral cancer accounts for about 8,000 deaths annually.

What’s the best way to get an early diagnosis early? Visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations, which typically include an oral cancer screening in the form of a soft tissue exam and in some cases the use of the Velscope oral cancer screening system. If you are not sure if your dentist has conducted a soft tissue exam, ask him or her to perform this screening for oral cancer, which includes a visual inspection of the oral cavity and palpation of the head, neck and oral cavity.

Causes of Oral Cancer?

As of now there is some debate over the actual cause of oral cancer but it is believed certain activities raise your risk for developing it. These include use of tobacco products, human papilloma virus (HPV), heavy alcohol use, as well as excessive exposure to the sun have all been found to have a link to developing oral cancer.

Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

The most common site for oral cancer are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips and gums. Oral cancer shows up as red, white or discolored lesions, patches or lumps in or around the mouth, and it is typically painless and without symptoms in its early stages. As the malignant cancer spreads and destroys healthy oral tissue, the lesions or lumps can become quite painful. However, oral cancer is almost impossible to self diagnose so frequent dental examinations are

Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

highly recommended. You should see your dentist immediately if you notice any of the following:
-Persistent mouth sore. Any mouth sore that persists longer than 10-14 days.

-a swelling, growth or lump anywhere in or near the mouth or neck.

-white or red patches in the mouth or on the lips.

-repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat.

-Persistent Sore Throat. Difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness.

Dental Screening for Oral Cancer

Your dentist should screen for oral cancer during routine dental examinations. He or she feels for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity, and thoroughly examines the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues. The use of the Velscope oral cancer screening system has been proven to diagnose precancerous as well as cancerous changes in the tissue as early as possible to give you the best chance for recovery and survival from oral cancer.

Treatment of Oral Cancer

If during your dental examination your dentist finds anything suspicious they will recommend that you have a biopsy performed of that area. The biopsy of the lesion will be used to confirm the diagnosis of oral cancer. If it is confirmed that you do indeed have oral cancer you will probably be referred to an oral surgeon for removal of the tumors. Radiation or chemotherapy may be also used in the course of your treatment.

Prevention

There are some preventive measures an individual can take and these include:

-Do not use tobacco products.Oral Cancer Marielaina Perrone DDS

-Refrain from excessive alcohol use.

When tobacco and alcohol use are combined, the risk of oral cancer increases 15 times more than for non-users of tobacco and alcohol products.

Research suggests that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may also safeguard against oral cancer development.

Because successful treatment and rehabilitation are dependent on early detection, it is extremely important to see your dentist for regular checkups including an oral cancer screening at least once a year. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. During your next dental visit, ask your dentist to do an oral cancer screening.

Oral Cancer Conclusion

Oral cancer is one of the deadliest cancers we can face. Luckily, as science advances we have some tools at our disposal, like the Velscope, to give us the best chance for early diagnosis. Live a healthy lifestyle and you will decrease the chance of developing oral cancer.



Oral cancer affects approximately 40,000 people in the United States each year. Oral Cancer kills one person every hour, every day totaling about 8,000 deaths per year. Only a little more than half of those 40,000 diagnosed, will be alive in 5 years. This is a number that has stayed steady for quite a number of years. Around the world, the problem is even greater with about 640,000 new cases of oral cancer each year. Historically, the death rate for oral cancer is higher than in cancers such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, testicular cancer, and endocrine system cancers (thyroid).

While not all oral lesions become malignant, the majority are removed surgically. The key is to find lesions as early as possible. One of the more effective ways for early detection is screening with a velscope. The velscope is a quick painless way to find tumors in the mouth that are not yet visible to the eye.  As many as 1/3rd of patients with cancerous oral lesions experience a recurrence of their oral cancer. Researchers have been studying this issue for years in attempts to figure out why the oral cancer returns and how to either stop it or slow it down or to avoid surgery altogether.

Oral Cancer Study

After more than 30 years of research, scientists at Ohio State University College of Dentistry, might have found a key to give oral cancer survivors hope for the future. That hope lies in a combination of black raspberries and

Velscope oral cancer screening Marielaina Perrone DDS

Velscope oral cancer screening system for early detection

fenretinide (a drug that has been used to treat certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, and psoriasis, has been found to also slow the production and accumulation of a toxin that leads to vision loss in Stargardt’s patients).

The study conducted consisted of using a topical gel application containing freeze dried black raspberries directly on precancerous lesions in the mouth. This gel application reduced clinical and microscopic premalignant features (Pharmaceutical Research, April 2010, Vol. 27:4, pp. 628-643). Early results have shown definite efficacy of the freeze dried black raspberry gel while the placebo showed no effect.

How Does It Work to Stop Oral Cancer?

The study believes that the berry compounds work at the cellular level by activating two related pathways in the premalignant cells. These pathways are:

Apoptosis. A genetically determined process of cell self-destruction that  is a normal physiological process. Cells only live and reproduce new cells for a set amount of times until they die. Tumor cells, on the other hand continue to divide and produce without dying off. Normal cells have this ” programmed cell death”, to eliminate  DNA-damaged cells, uncontrolled cell growth, and tumor formation.

Terminal Differentiation. Final stage of cell division, where the cell may stay in this phase and no longer proliferate (grow more cells).

The benefit of all this, is that damaged cells do not continue to divide and multiply and are therefore sloughed away by the body.

The goal of the research is for the raspberry compound (in a gel or mouthwash), to encourage the epithelium to differentiate, creating a barrier to ward off development of oral cancer. The data initially supports that the black raspberry gel is doing just that. It is thought to be re-educating the cells to differentiate away from the cancerous state.

While the black raspberry gel was quite effective in many of the patients involved in the study, not all of them responded equally well to the black raspberry gel treatment. The theory is that is a direct reflection of individual patient differences in metabolism. So, the researchers added the chemotherapy agent  fenretinide.  The black raspberry gel in combination with fenretinide was more effective, acting as a one-two punch in fighting the oral cancer lesions.

The fenretinide will be delivered as a patch whereas the black raspberry gel can be placed directly on the lesions in the mouth. The theory by the research team is that this will treat both visible lesions and lesions that are yet to develop.

Oral Cancer Conclusion

This could be potentially game changing oral cancer research if the results continue to stay strong throughout the research study. Until the study progresses further, our only hope is to diagnose oral cancer as early as possible. This can be achieved via the use of the Velscope Oral Cancer Screening System. This is a tool that gives the dentist the best chance of diagnosing oral cancer and precancerous tissue as early as possible. Very important to see a dentist using this system and to go for regular dental examinations.