Is There a Way to Detect Oral Cancer in Early Stages?
Over 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and sadly, the recovery rate is the worst out of all other forms of cancer. This is perhaps due to the fact that oral cancer is not usually discovered until it is late into the development stage. With ever improving technology, can oral surgeons hope to find ways to diagnose, and therefore treat, oral cancer in its early stages?
Patients Need to Be Made Aware of Early Signs and Risk Factors
When oral cancer starts, it usually goes unnoticed by the patient for quite some time. The early stages of oral cancer are not painful until it has advanced into a noticeable tumor. Additionally, by the time patients are treated for the tumor, the cancer has developed and can cause secondary tumors after initial treatment. Patients who have had an encounter with oral cancer are 20 times more likely to develop a second type of cancer. Although symptoms are usually nonspecific and thus go unnoticed, oral cancer does create symptoms that everyone should be aware of. If you have had any of the following symptoms or are otherwise at risk, you should see an oral surgeon as soon as possible.
· White (leukoplakia) or red (erythroplakia) lesions in the mouth that do not heal within 2 weeks.
· A lump or a notable thickening of the soft tissue in the mouth.
· Feeling like something is caught in your throat, or difficulty chewing and swallowing.
· Ear pain and difficulty moving the jaw; swelling of the jaw.
· Difficulty moving the tongue, or unexplained numbness of the tongue.
If any of these symptoms develop and persist for more than two weeks, laboratory tests and clinical exams may be necessary for a diagnosis.
Additionally, there are certain people that are more at risk for oral cancer. Anyone who is a heavy drinker or smoker is more prone to developing cancer of the mouth. Certain strains of HPV have been linked to oral cancer, and people over 40 may have an increased risk.
New Technology May Help With Early Detection
Aside from a traditional examination of the mouth conducted by your doctor or oral surgeon, emerging technologies may hold promise for techniques in early diagnosis. Vital Staining and autoflourescence imaging may help to identify abnormal sections of the mucosal membranes. Newer imaging technology, like i-CAT scans, may also detect early signs of cancer, as these scans can show abnormalities in soft tissue, bones, and blood vessels.
Advancing technology, coupled with patient awareness, may hold some hope for the future of early diagnostics in oral cancer.
Contact us for more information. www.SolaceOralSurgery.com