Why Oral Cancer Screening is So Important

Dr. Gordon includes oral cancer screening in part of every patient’s routine cleaning and checkup to ensure any possible head and neck cancers are caught and treated early on. While most people don’t think about oral cancer, it is on the rise in the United States, and it’s critical to detect it before it spreads.

What is Oral Cancer?

Head and neck cancers are referred to as oral cancers. They can affect the mouth, salivary glands, nasal cavities, and throat. Because dentists routinely care for and treat these areas, we sometimes spot signs of oral cancer in its earliest stages when treatment is most successful. Unfortunately, many people aren’t screened regularly for oral cancer. Early signs or symptoms may not be detected until it’s in the later stages, reducing their chances for successful treatment. Oral cancer is most often the result of smoking or using smokeless tobacco. It is also linked to certain strains of the HPV virus and excessive alcohol use.

Dr. Gordon Performs Oral Cancer Screening Using VELscope

Because it’s crucial for your health to catch any form of cancer early, Dr. Gordon uses the latest technology to annually screen patients for head and neck cancer. The VELscope is a hand-held medical device that detects even the earliest stages of abnormal tissue development in the mouth.

Although there are physical symptoms of oral cancer you should watch for, the earliest signs are often undetectable to the naked eye.

Cancer often starts below the surface. The VELscope, a high-energy LED light, is an effective medical device for detecting changes in tissue appearance before it is visible to the naked eye. The high-energy light emitted from the VELscope energizes the tissue lining of the mouth to absorb this energy and fluoresce, highlighting differences between abnormal and normal tissue. Any area that does not fluoresce is an area of suspicion and needs to be further investigated as you may be dealing with a possible precancerous or cancerous growth. Our patients appreciate this easy, short, painless, no-mess oral cancer screening tool that provides them peace of mind and promotes oral health.

How You Can Check for Oral Cancer at Home

Annual oral cancer screening should be part of your overall health and dental care routine, but you can also watch for changes yourself. Performing a monthly self-check is easy and can be incorporated into your evening hygiene routine. Stand in front of a mirror with good lighting and check the following:

  • Face – Color changes, sores, growths or skin tags, and moles getting larger.
  • Head and Neck – Swelling, bumps, or bruises on one side of the neck or face.
  • Throat – Lumps or tenderness on the neck, painful swallowing, hoarseness that lingers, or a sore or scratchy throat that lasts for five to ten days.
  • Lips, Cheeks, and Gums – Check for abnormalities in the color and texture. Look for patches of red or white and sores or lumps inside the mouth.
  • Tongue – Look for lumps, open sores, and patches of abnormal appearing tissue on all sides of the tongue.
  • Floor and Roof of Mouth – Check for the indicators as mentioned above, examining the tonsils as well.

You should always see a doctor if you have a sore throat or hoarseness that lingers or have trouble chewing or swallowing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 46,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year. Over 10,000 of these ends in death each year. Early detection is key to successful treatment and improved long-term survival rates. Dr. Gordon contributes to that goal through annual oral cancer screening of all his patients.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (913) 649-4042 or visit our website to use our easy, online scheduling form.