Oral Cancer Foundation

VELscope® is a revolutionary hand-held device that provides dentists and hygienists with an easy-to-use system for the early detection of abnormal tissue. The screening involves use of a special light to illuminate abnormal cells so that they appear distinctly different from the surrounding normal tissue. The clinician is then able to immediately view the different fluorescence responses to help differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue. In fact, VELscope is the only non-invasive adjunctive device clinically proven to help discover occult oral disease.

While the statistics on oral cancer are discouraging, when the disease is found and treated in the early stages it has an 80 – 90% cure rate.

What is Oral Cancer?

As the name suggests, oral cancer is cancer that develops in the mouth. It usually involves the lips or the tongue but may also occur on the cheek lining, floor of the mouth, gums, or roof of the mouth. Oral cancers tend to spread quickly which is why early detection is so critical to its treatment. We recommend biannual dental visits to scan for oral cancer and more frequent visits for tobacco users or those who consume heavy amounts of alcohol.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of oral cancer may vary between individuals and may include the following:

  • A sore, lump or ulcer in the mouth
  • Chewing problems
  • Mouth sores
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Speech difficulties
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tongue problems
  • Weight loss

Oral Cancer Treatment

If the cancer has developed to a tumor, surgery may be required to remove it. It may also be used in combination with radiation therapy and chemo for larger tumors.

Our dental office can discover oral cancer in its early stages along with your routine cleaning and dental examination. If you have a sore in your mouth or lip or a lump in the neck that does not go away after a month you should call us for an appointment immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly increase your chances of survival.

Oral Cancer Facts

  • Approximately half of people with oral cancer will live more than 5 years after they are diagnosed and treated.
  • If the cancer is found early, before it has spread to other tissues, the cure rate is nearly 90%.
  • About 1 in 4 persons with oral cancer die because of delayed diagnosis and treatment.