Oral Cancer Technology and Facts
By Susan
May 09, 2012
Category: Oral Cancer
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Oral Cancer Screening.......Advanced Technology for You.

When it comes to oral cancer detection, it's what you can't see that can be most troubling.  For this reason, Hudsonville Family Dentistry has recently purchased two of the new VELscope Vx systems for the practice.  The VELscope Vx is the latest generation of fluorescence-based detection devices.  It provides enhanced vision when it comes to detecting abnormal areas that might not be visible to the naked eye, including oral cancer and premalignant dysplasia.  When it comes to oral cancer, the difference between early and late detection can mean the difference between life and death.  In addition to the detection of oral cancer and pre-cancerous lesions, it also aides in the discovery of other mucosal abnormalities such as viral, fungal, and bacterial infections.  The VELscope screening is available for only $10 and it is recommended annually for patients who are 18 and older and semi-annually for those who are high-risk.  This new technology is just a part of Hudsonville Family Dentistry's ongoing quest to maintain and improve our patient's health.  

Please take a moment and read the Oral Cancer Facts listed below - this information was taken directly from the Oral Cancer Foundation's Website.

Rates of occurrence in the United States  

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. (Approximately 57%) This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma). If you expand the definition of oral cancers to include cancer of the larynx, for which the risk factors are the same, the numbers of diagnosed cases grow to approximately 54,000 individuals, and 13,500 deaths per year in the US alone. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with over 640,000 new cases being found each year. Statistics on worldwide occurrence Oral cancers are part of a group of cancers commonly referred to as head and neck cancers, and of all head and neck cancers they comprise about 85% of that category. Brain cancer is a cancer category unto itself, and is not included in the head and neck cancer group.

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. Today, (2012) that statement is still true, as there is not a comprehensive program in the US to opportunistically screen for the disease, and without that; late stage discovery is more common. Another obstacle to early discovery (and resulting better outcomes) is the advent of a virus, HPV16, contributing more to the incidence rate of oral cancers, particularly in the posterior part of the mouth (the oropharynx, the tonsils, the base of tongue areas) which many times does not produce visible lesions or discolorations that have historically been the early warning signs of the disease process.

Often oral cancer is only discovered when the cancer has metastasized to another location, most likely the lymph nodes of the neck. Prognosis at this stage of discovery is significantly worse than when it is caught in a localized intra oral area. Besides the metastasis, at these later stages, the primary tumor has had time to invade deep into local structures. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because in its early stages it may not be noticed by the patient, as it can frequently prosper without producing pain or symptoms they might readily recognize, and because it has a high risk of producing second, primary tumors. This means that patients who survive a first encounter with the disease, have up to a 20 times higher risk of developing a second cancer. This heightened risk factor can last for 5 to 10 years after the first occurrence. There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% are squamous cell carcinomas. It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States each year on treatment of head and neck cancers. (2010 numbers)

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