Oral cancer is largely viewed as a disease that affects those over the age of 40, but Dr. McCauley and Associates and our team at Element Dental want you to know the disease can affect people of all ages, even non-tobacco and alcohol users. Oral cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth.
Often not caught until the later stages, oral cancer can be disfiguring, sometimes resulting in the removal of the jaw, tongue, or other facial structures. In the worst cases, oral cancer can be deadly, killing more people in North America than cervical cancer, malignant melanoma, or Hodgkin’s disease, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. The high death rate results from the fact that most oral cancers go undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced and has spread to another part of the body, most often, the lymph nodes in the neck.
Until recently, a visual examination at a dentist’s office was the only method available to detect and diagnose signs of oral cancer. But these days, a technological breakthrough called the VELscope allows Dr. McCauley and Associates to meticulously screen for oral cancer, detecting symptoms that the naked eye simply can’t see, including inflammation, infection, cancerous, and precancerous tissue.
During a VELscope exam, we shine a blue, high-powered light over your oral tissue. Any anomalies appear underneath this light, including the earliest formations of cancerous lesions or other abnormalities. This screening takes just a few minutes, is painless and is the best detection technology we have available. The results are immediately available to Dr. McCauley and Associates and our team.
We recommend an oral cancer screening exam every three years for those of our patients over the age of 20 and annually for those over the age of 40. Because early detection can dramatically improve the chance of successful treatment, be sure to ask Dr. McCauley and Associates and our team to conduct an oral exam during your next visit to our Lufkin, Conroe, Bryan, Spring, Tomball, or Humble, TX office.