Since it is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a good time to talk about oral cancer and how you can avoid falling prey to this potentially destructive disease. As you probably know, cancer is not a single disease as there are many types of this condition. Some cancers are alike in several ways, but the way they grow and spread are different.

An easy way to understand cancer is to know that it starts when some cells grow out of control and crowd out the others normal, healthy cells. The problematic cells then make it difficult for the patient’s body to function normally.

However, one should not fear cancer as it is actually treatable, provided that the symptoms are caught early by medical professionals and the patient himself or herself. Once the patient recovers, he or she can continue to lead normal lives after their cancer treatment.

Understanding Oral Cancer

One of the common types of cancer is oral cancer. This type of cancer starts in the mouth or oral cavity. Oropharyngeal cancer, on the other hand, starts in the oropharynx, which is known as a part of the throat that is located just behind the mouth. Both the oral cavity and oropharynx help an individual swallow, chew, eat, talk and breathe normally. In addition, there are minute salivary glands throughout them that keep your mouth moist and aid the food digestion process.

As different parts of the oropharynx and oral cavity are made up of several types of cells, different cancers can develop from each of them. Knowing the difference between the cancers is important as they have direct influence on the patient’s prognosis and treatment options.

Oral Cancer Statistics for 2016

Studies have shown that more than 48,000 individuals may get oropharyngeal or oral cavity cancer in 2016, and approximately over 9,000 individuals may die from oral cancer. While these cancers are twice as common in men as in women, recent observations have stated that new cases of oral cancers have been dropping slightly in women and becoming stable in men.

In addition, most patients who were diagnosed with these cancers were at least sixty years of age. However, they can occur in young people as well (very rare in children). About more than one-quarter of these patients, who were diagnosed with cancer, were younger than fifty years of age.

What Can Oral Cancer Screening Do for You?

At Ready To Smile, we incorporate advanced technologies into our dental practice and stay abreast of modern developments in our industry. A fine example is the VELscope®, which allow us to perform oral screening procedures for our patients. VELscope® is a state-of-the-art oral assessment system that comes with a handheld scope. It is able to help us spot oral tissue abnormalities that are either pre-cancer or cancerous.

The VELscope® is unlike other adjunctive devices as they do not require prolonged testing procedures or complex dyes. In fact, the oral screening session can be performed onsite in our office, and the routine takes no more than three minutes to complete. Make an appointment with us today for your oral cancer screening test, and let us help you stay one step ahead of oral cancer.