Have you had your oral cancer screening this year?

April is oral cancer awareness month, and your local First Choice dentist is ready to provide your oral cancer screening — free of charge!

No longer considered a “smoker’s disease,” oral cancer is on the rise. Early detection is key to diagnosis and treatment. Adults over the age of 18 should have an annual oral cancer screening. While this cancer is very treatable if caught early on (before the onset of perceivable symptoms), survival rates have traditionally been low because it’s often detected after the disease is very advanced. An oral cancer screening uses technology that goes beyond the naked eye — helping your dentist detect any abnormalities.

Why First Choice Dental offers free oral cancer screenings
We are committed to your complete care, including your oral health and your overall health. Our decision to offer oral cancer screenings free of charge is a commitment to make sure nothing stands in the way of our patients receiving these critical screenings. Other dentists offer similar screenings for $40-60, but because of our commitment to offer these screenings for free, we believe that people who would not otherwise seek out an oral cancer screening will get the care and early detection they need to stay healthy. As a standard of care, we offer these screenings free of charge to all new patients, 18 and up, as part of their new patient exam, as well as annually to all our patients over the age of 18.

Oral cancer is more common and more deadly than you might think.
The occurrence rate of oral cancer in the United States is close to 43,250 Americans who will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. More than 8,000 people will die of oral cancer this year. That’s roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Oral cancer survival rates have improved slightly, due to the fact that there’s been an increase in the number of oral cancers caused by the HPV16 virus, which is more vulnerable to treatment. But sadly, only slightly more than half of the Americans diagnosed this year will be alive 5 years from now.

Oral cancer is very treatable, IF DISCOVERED EARLY.
Historically, the death rate associated with oral cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. The good news is that routine oral cancer screenings like those provided by our dentists help make early detection possible, long before symptoms arise.

Although our dentists recommend annual screenings for anyone 18 or older, there is not currently a comprehensive program in the United States to opportunistically screen for the disease. It’s up to you to get your oral cancer screening each year to help you stay healthy — and potentially save your life.

Another obstacle to early discovery (and resulting better outcomes) is the advent of a virus, HPV16, contributing more to the incidence rate of oral cancers, particularly in the posterior part of the mouth (oropharynx, tonsils, base of tongue areas), which many times does not produce visible lesions or discolorations that are historically the early warning signs of the disease process. Because HPV16 is potentially present in anyone who’s sexually active, even non-smokers should seek an annual oral cancer screening.

Who’s at risk of developing oral cancer?
Oral cancer used to be thought of as a “smoker’s disease,” or confined to other risk factors such as heavy alcohol use. However, HPV has changed all that. Now oral cancer cases among non-smoking young people are on the rise. Another rising number is the prevalence of oral cancer cases among older, non-smoking men, which occurs due to the long incubation period of oral cancer. Compared to women, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer.

How can my Madison dentist help?
First Choice Dental uses an advanced oral cancer screening technology called a Velscope, which utilizes fluorescent light to detect tissue abnormalities that might cause concern. If tissue abnormalities are detected at an oral cancer screening, and confirmed during a brief follow-up check, patients can then be referred to our oral surgeon, or their medical doctor, who can conduct further examinations.

Oral cancer is a silent killer.
Oral cancer advances without perceivable symptoms. If you wait until you see it or feel it, it may be too late. In its early stages it may not be noticed by the patient, as it can frequently advance without producing pain or symptoms that are easily recognizable.

Don’t wait. Call us today to schedule your free oral cancer screening.
Please share this post with friends! Our free oral cancer screenings are open to anyone, whether or not they’re a current patient of First Choice Dental. Schedule your free oral cancer screening today.