Oral cancer affects over 48,000 Americans every year and it results in over 9,000 deaths annually. To give patients the best chance for early detection, our Oak Harbor dentists offer oral cancer screenings during every routine cleaning and examination.
Oral Cancer Screenings: A Proactive Approach
Like any other cancer, early diagnosis plays a direct role in improving a patient’s likelihood of getting care as soon as possible. However, few individuals know the warning signs. As a result, oral cancer has historically had one of the lower survivability rates — around 60%. Combined with the prevalence of dental anxiety, patients often don’t receive a cancer diagnosis until their condition has already progressed.
The Screening Process
With these consequences in mind, the dentists at Whidbey Dental Associates have made education and early screening an important part of all routine cleanings and examinations. Starting with a visual examination, our dentists will check the soft tissue of your mouth, looking for sores, swelling, or thick patches in the mouth and throat. We’ll also look for red and white lesions that don’t seem to heal and we will ask several questions about pain, sensitivity, and other symptoms you may be experiencing.
Once the visual exam is complete, we will use the VELscope Oral Assessment System to screen for cancer cells. This advanced technology uses tissue fluorescence to identify changes in the structure of your soft tissue that are invisible to the naked eye. Completely safe for use, VELscope is the latest oral cancer screening technology available and gives our Oak Harbor dentists the ability to determine if abnormalities require further investigation.
Collaboration With Other Healthcare Providers
Early screening is the first step to a full cancer diagnosis. If we suspect that you are showing signs of oral cancer, our team will provide you with a referral for a biopsy to get a complete diagnosis. From there, we’ll coordinate treatment with your general physician to ensure you get the care you need as soon as possible.