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Why dental visits include oral cancer screening for our patients from the Mississauga area

In North America, oral cancer takes, on average, one life every hour of every day. This condition is number six on the list of most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S., with approximately 30,000 new cases occurring annually and more than 8,000 deaths.

Typically, we associate oral cancer with smoking or other tobacco use. There are additional risk factors, however, that we discuss with our dental patients during oral cancer screening in our Mississauga area office. In addition to tobacco use, risks for oral cancer also come from excessive or frequent alcohol consumption, presence of HPV (human papillomavirus), lowered immune function and a history of cancer. What clinicians are noticing, however, is an increase in oral cancer diagnoses in younger adults without these risk factors.

At sherway dentistry, we are serious about our patients' health and wellness beyond the condition of their teeth. We are pleased that we have made oral cancer screening a part of our routine examination process. More than a basic screening, as well, we incorporate the VELscope examination system into our procedure.

For several years, we have continued to see a decline in deaths associated with various types of cancer, including prostate, cervical, and colon cancers. Oral cancer, on the other hand, has not changed much in the past fifty years. The reason mortality rates have improved in other areas is the direct result of advances in screening processes for these types of cancer. Using VELscope, we believe that we have a far greater potential for recognizing abnormalities that we would via any other means.

The vast majority of oral cancers affect oral squamous cells. Early oral squamous cell carcinoma may look like nothing more than a small white patch of tissue when viewed under white light. In the standard examination, these lesions may also appear as slight redness, which could easily be attributed to multiple other causes. In recent history, oral cancer has had only a 50 percent survival rate. We know that oral squamous cell carcinoma can have a much better prognosis, up to 90 percent survival rate, when abnormality is detected early.

The magic of light

VELscope is a sophisticated technology that provides us an accurate measure of identification. In a short exam process, fluorescent light is directed across oral tissues including the gums, the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and more. Under fluorescent light, healthy tissues "glow." Abnormal tissues, on the other hand, will look dark, alerting your dentist that further diagnostic testing may be necessary.

Oral cancer is a condition that we need to take seriously. Whether you fall into a high risk category or not, you can benefit from the level of care provided at sherway dentistry. Schedule your visit with us today.

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