Oral cancer affects almost 40,000 Americans are diagnosed each year. Oral Cancer kills one person per hour, every day totaling approximately 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 sobering statistic that has stayed steady for quite a few years.
Worldwide, the problem is even greater with about 640,000 new cases of oral cancer each year. Historically, the mortality or 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).
This is mainly due to the stage of diagnosis and not due to the aggressiveness of the cancer. Another obstacle to early diagnosis is the advent of a virus, HPV16 (Human Papillomavirus), contributing more to the incidence rate of oral cancers, particularly in the posterior portion of the mouth (the oropharynx, the tonsils, the base of tongue areas) which often times does not produce any visible changes, lesions or discolorations that are usually the early warning signs of oral cancer.
Discovery of oral cancer often occurs when the cancer has spread (metastasised) to a different location, usually the lymph nodes of the neck.Long term Prognosis at this stage of discovery is significantly worse than if it was diagnosed in a localized intra oral area. At these more advanced stages, the primary tumor has had time to invade deep into local tissues. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because it has a high risk of producing secondary tumors and even tertiary tumors. Patients rarely have symptoms at this point. Patients who survive a first bout with oral cancer have a 20x chance of it recurring later on. This heightened risk factor can last for 5-10 years after the first occurrence. 90% of all oral cancers are of the squamous carcinoma variety.
All of the above raises awareness of how deadly this disease can be. At every dental visit a complete head and neck exam is completed manually by the doctor along with the use of a VELscope. The VELscope stands out above the rest in its effectiveness for noting changes in the oral cavity at an early stage. It gives the patient and doctor the best chance for early diagnosis.
VELscope uses a fluorescence-based system that makes it possible for Dr. Perrone to diagnose oral cancer during its earliest stages, when it’s easier to treat successfully. The screening takes just a few minutes and works by illuminating the VELscope’s fluorescent light at the oral tissues. If there is anything abnormal going on it will be detected by the VELscope.
An oral cancer screening utilizing the VELscope has a much higher success rate of detecting changes than just a manual oral cancer screening. If Dr. Perrone finds anything abnormal at all, we can begin coordinating your treatment as soon as possible. Oral Cancer has about a 90% success rate for treatment when diagnosed in its early stages. Don’t leave cancer to chance. Increase your odds and get regular screenings.
Marielaina Perrone DDS