You know that routine dental exams can help to diagnose decay and gum disease. Your dentist can treat these conditions before they cause serious damage or discomfort. However, there is an even more important reason to schedule your biannual check-ups: doing so could save your life. VELscope® oral cancer screenings are an integral part of our general dentistry services. Because Dr. Siegel uses advanced technology, his scans are comfortable, and they take just a matter of minutes. Most importantly, VELscope® is highly accurate. Therefore, your dentist can diagnose oral cancer in the earliest and most easily treatable phases. To learn more about VELscope® oral cancer screenings, contact our Rockville, MD practice today.
Oral Cancer: What You Should Know
Oral cancer is more common than many people realize. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the disease will affect almost 50,000 people in 2016 alone. Like other forms of cancer, oral cancer is the result of irregular cell division. As cells proliferate, you could develop growths on your gums, lips, cheeks, soft palate, or any other soft tissues in your mouth. Other symptoms of oral cancer can include bleeding, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, and gum sensitivity. Oral cancer can affect anyone, but the disease is far more likely to impact older men, smokers, and those exposed to the HPV virus.
How VELscope® Screening Works
The handheld VELscope® device will send out special blue light to measure the levels of fluorescence in your soft tissues. First, Dr. Siegel will calculate the fluorescence in a sample of healthy tissue to get a base reading. He can then compare this measurement to the amount of fluorescence in the rest of your mouth. A reading that is higher than normal could indicate the presence of cancer. If Dr. Siegel takes an unusually high reading, he will usually order a biopsy. Lab technicians will examine a small tissue sample to look for oral cancer. If the test is positive, Dr. Siegel will work with your general doctor and oncologist, forming a thorough, compassionate treatment team.
The Importance of VELscope® Screenings
Oral cancer has a higher death rate than cervical cancer, thyroid cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and several other common forms of the disease. This alarming statistic is largely due to the fact that oral cancer frequently goes undiagnosed. In the early phases, oral cancer often does not manifest any symptoms. By the time that patients notice lesions and sores, cancer has often spread to another area, such as the lymph nodes. Even dentists may not be able to detect oral cancer if they only conduct a visual scan. VELscope®, on the other hand, can reveal oral cancer in the initial stages. With such early detection, patients typically have a very good prognosis.
Because of the vast importance of oral cancer screenings, Dr. Siegel will perform this test at every biannual exam. If you have previously been diagnosed with oral cancer, or if the disease runs in your family, we suggest more frequent testing.
Contact Us to Schedule Your Oral Cancer Screening
Do not neglect this vital part of your oral health. Contact our office today to schedule your VELscope® cancer screening.