Within the family of “head and neck cancers” is a type of cancer known as oral cancer. Oral cancer can affect various parts of the mouth including the gums, floor of the mouth, tongue, oral mucosa (the lining inside the mouth), and lips. According to research provided by the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 45,000 individuals will be affected with oral cancer in America this year and about 20% of them will succumb to it.
Oral cancer can be contracted in various ways, but some well-known causes are smoking, extensive alcohol drinking, too much exposure to sun, and HPV (a group of sexually transmitted diseases). Moreover, in many cases, oral cancer can also reappear after a successful recovery. Among the signs of oral cancer are small white/cream-colored patches inside the mouth, sores on the gums or lips, and inflammation of certain regions of the mouth.
Unfortunately, oral cancer is one of those types of cancers which are hard to detect early on. They grow overtime and become apparent at a very late stage. However, there are certain complications which can arise that may alert you of an impending diagnosis. Dr. Alessandra Raschkovsky DDS of Zen Dental at downtown Los Angeles recommends we should consult a doctor if following complications are experienced for two weeks or more:
- Having difficulty swallowing/chewing normal food or being unable to swallow solid food
- Feeling a lump on the throat area
- Discomfort in the ears for no apparent reason
- Losing sensation of the tongue (i.e not feeling anything if you bite it)
Along with the above, thankfully, there are also several ways doctors can screen for an oral cancer using advanced technology. Some common exams include a biopsy (removing tissues from the mouth and examining them for signs of cancer), MRI scan (imaging of the tissues and cells), bone scan (looking for unusually fast cell growth) and of course, a normal external exam of the oral cavity.
With that said, Dr. Alessandra Raschkovsky DDS highlights a new and innovative screening method called VELscope® Vx.
The VELscope® Vx is the latest in cancer detection technology. It works by emitting a blue light which causes the oral tissues to glow because of the fluorescent light. This makes it much easier to see any oral tissues which are showing signs of abnormality. These abnormalities are not visible to the naked eye during the early stages of the cancer and thus are prone to be overlooked during a regular dental exam.
That is what makes VELscope® Vx such an important tool. Similar to some other types of cancers, early detection of oral cancer is the key. The major benefit of VELscope® Vx is that it helps the doctors by showing the diseases during the early days of their development. Through its technology, the VELscope® Vx can detect cancers underneath the skin without much effort. It can easily be used at a routine dental exam in just few minutes.
Furthermore, the VELscope® Vx is not limited to exposing cancerous tissues only. In fact, it can also uncover a whole host of potential diseases such as viral and fungal infections, salivary gland tumors, and oral inflammations.
If you are experiencing any aforementioned signs of oral cancer, we encourage you to book an appointment today to have an oral screening performed by Dr. Alessandra Raschkovsky. Here at Zen Dental in downtown Los Angeles, we focus on providing you with a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere in order to minimize any stress or discomfort which may arise before, during or after your treatment. Please, feel free to contact us through our contact page. You can also call us or drop us an email.