Cleanings & Prevention
VELscope® Oral Cancer Screening
Only 15 percent of patients reported receiving an oral cancer screening at their routine dental appointment, according to the American Dental Association. This is cause for concern, as cancer of the head and neck is the sixth most common cancer and accounts for 643,000 new cases per year. Failure to diagnose oral cancer is the No. 2 cause of dental malpractice claims.
Receiving a proper oral cancer screening is vital to your health. The dentists at Drs. Kalil & Kress first review your personal risk factors, including your medical and family history as well as alcohol consumption, smoking, chewing tobacco and the human papillomavirus.
During the clinical examination our dentists will look for any unusual bumps, growths, lesions or other anomalies that may require additional evaluation, referral or biopsy. Your dentist should visually examine the head and neck, as well as evaluate voice and eye movements. Hoarseness may be indicative of a growth in the mouth, throat or surrounding tissues. The dentist will palpate the TMJ joint, the neck muscles and the chain of lymph nodes along the neck muscles. Lymph nodes can be pathways for oral cancers to spread, so checking them for irregularities is important. Your dentist may also palpate your thyroid in the front of your neck and check the glands in the back of your neck.
The intra-oral examination includes evaluating the cheeks, lip, tongue, hard and soft palates and gums. Your dentist will gently grasp your tongue with gauze and pull it forward to look at the tongue base. This is the most common site of oral cancer. We may also palpate the floor of the mouth and look for changes in color or texture.
New technologies such as VELScope can be used to screen for oral cancer, as well. Healthy cells in the mouth will emit a bright green glow while areas of concern will appear dark. A recent study of 44 patients compared the results of VELscope against traditional screening techniques and found that the device can achieve a sensitivity of 98 percent and specificity of 100 percent when discriminating normal mucosa from severe dysplasia (carcinoma in situ) or invasive carcinoma.
Call us at (603) 880-7004 to inquire about an oral cancer screening during your next visit.