These are sobering statistics. There is good news: caught early, the five year survival rate goes up significantly, to nearly 83%.
Our office has invested in a high tech electronic device that uses fluoresence visualization technology to aid us in early detection of oral cancers. The device, called the Velscope, is painless, non-invasive and involves no unpleasant rinses or stains.
It uses a safe blue light which excites the oral tissue, causing it to fluoresce, or “glow”. Because normal tissue and abnormal tissue glow differently, we hope to discover possible cancers before they can be seen with the naked eye. A recent study done by researchers at the University of Washington showed the Velscope to be a powerful tool in detecting abnormal tissue.
A history of alcohol and tabacco use has traditionally been the most significant factor associated with people who develop oral cancers. However, more recently, a large percentage of those affected have never smoked or used alcohol, and include an increasingly younger set of people. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is thought to be the reason. (This is the same virus that has been found to cause cervical cancer.)
The scary part of this disease is that, in its earliest stages, those who have it may not feel nor see anything out of the ordinary.
Here are some common signs, however:
Early detection is the most effective way to improve survival rates. If you notice a sore in your mouth that does not go away within 2 weeks, or notice any other of these signs, make an appointment as soon as possible.
Call Dr. Cooper at 206-244-4545 to schedule a Velscope examination.
Alan Cooper, DDS, PS
207 SW 156th Street, Suite 6
Burien, WA 98166