Getting regular oral cancer screenings every 1-2 years at Marion Smile Center can play a crucial role in protecting your overall health. Dr. Mark Marion and his highly trained providers will check your lips, tongue, gums, palate, and throat using a special tool with advanced technology, the VELscope.
Here’s a photo of one of our dental hygienists using our high-tech equipment to illuminate irregularities in the mouth. We are on the cutting edge of dental technology. We WOW patients on their first visits to our office. Most new patients comment that they have never received such an extensive dental cleaning and examination.
Early Detection of Oral Cancer Saves Lives
Early detection is critical for successful treatment outcomes and less invasive surgeries. Screening regularly can catch the disease at its earliest stages, which improves the chances of more successful treatment.
Your dentist can help identify suspicious symptoms or signs before it progresses to advanced stages. If caught early, there will be less invasive and more effective treatment options. This will improve the overall quality of life for people who are diagnosed with mouth and throat cancer.
Dentists Are Trained to Detect Oral Cancer
Because most Medical Doctors (M.D.s) do not have the equipment or expertise in diseases of the mouth, they may not catch oral cancer in its early – and most treatable stages. Dentists are experts in the oral cavity, so they are in the unique position to identify early changes in the mouth.
Statistics show that Americans typically see their dentist much more often than they do their M.D. So, your dentist who sees you several times per year, typically, every six (6) months, can make comparisons of how your oral cavity looked from one visit to the next.
Our high-tech office also uses intraoral cameras to capture photos of the inside of your mouth. These images of the inside of your mouth are then projected onto our large treatment room monitors magnifying and lighting any suspicious areas for our dentists to then examine more closely.
Oral Cancer Kills Thousands Every Year
This year, about 54,000 people in the USA will be diagnosed with oral cancer and about 11,000 will die. Yet, oral cancer can be easily identified during a routine screening.
According to cancer.net, if oral cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, 86% of people will live at least 5 years after being diagnosed (28% of mouth and throat cancers are diagnosed at an early stage). If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, 69% of people will live at least 5 years after initial diagnosis (half of cases are diagnosed at this stage). If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, 40% of people will live at least 5 years after being diagnosed (17% of oral cancers are diagnosed at this stage).
Oral cancer is affecting younger and younger people. According to a recent article in the journal Oral Oncology, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of tongue cancer in people under 45. In particular, the incidence has increased in young women by a staggering 385% over the past 32 years. Tongue cancer is rare and devastating disease. Treatment for tongue cancer typically involves removal of part of the tongue and jaw which can result in problems with speech and swallowing and disfigurement.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
If you have any of the following symptoms of oral cancer, please be sure to get screened by a doctor as soon as possible.
- Mouth or throat sore that will not heal
- Lumps or swelling
- Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, or soft tissue
- Difficulty swallowing or pain while swallowing
- Changes in voice or hoarseness
- Persistent ear pain
Be sure to check your body regularly and be aware of any changes in the following places:
- Floor of the mouth
- Roof of the mouth (palate)
- Inner lining of the cheeks
- Back of the throat (pharynx)
- Voice box (larynx)
Oral Cancer Screening Detects What Cannot Be Seen
In its earliest stages, symptoms of mouth or throat cancer may not be obvious. Getting an oral cancer screening with the VELscope at Marion Smile Center helps detect abnormalities that cannot always be seen with the naked eye alone.
One of our highly trained providers will use the VELscope to shine a fluorescent light into the patient’s mouth. The special kind of light shows abnormalities in deep tissue layers that are not visible with the naked eye alone.
If an irregularity is found, Dr. Marion may recommend that you return to the office for a follow-up visit in a few weeks to see if there were any changes. He may alco recommend an immediate referral to an oral surgeon for a possible biopsy.
Oral Cancer Screening Is Painless and Non-invasive
Screenings with the VELscope are painless, quick, and comfortable. The visual examination with fluorescence light technology will shine on your tissue to check for any abnormalities in the mouth, throat, tongue, cheeks, and soft tissue. Dr. Marion will also feel your neck area to check for any lumps.
Your Dentist Will Teach You Preventative Measures
When getting screened for mouth or throat cancer, your provider will go over how to identify risk factors. This can help you implement some small lifestyle adjustments that could result in major positive results by lowering your risk of developing oral cancer.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Some major risk factors are smoking cigarettes or cigars, vaping, or chewing tobacco. Even though there has been a steady decrease in the number of people who smoke over the past decade, there is an increase in oral cancer among young people who do not have the risk factors of oral cancer.
The number diagnoses in women under 45 years of age is rising significantly faster than diagnoses in women or men over 45 years of age. Scientists are studying this increase of oral cancer in young, non-smokers to not only better treat the cancer but also to put preventative measures in place.
HPV and Oral Cancer
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a significant risk factor for oral cancer. The virus, which is sexually transmitted, can infect the mouth and throat, leading to abnormal tissue growth or tumors.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, HPV can cause oral cancers such as cancer in the roof of the mouth and even cancer in the vocal cords. HPV is also responsible for an increase in oral cancers in younger individuals and those who don’t smoke.
Regular dental check-ups, vaccination against HPV, and practicing safe sex are crucial measures in preventing HPV-related oral cancer. Fortunately, if you have HPV and develop abnormal tissue growth in the mouth, VELscope can detect it early and accurately.
Other Risk Factors
Other risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Consuming one (1) or more alcoholic beverages per day
- History of any kind of cancer
- Family history of oral cancer
- Weakened immune system
- Sun exposure to your lips
How Often Should I Get Screened for Oral Cancer?
Dr. Mark Marion and the American Dental Association recommend getting screened for oral cancer yearly for high-risk patients and every two (2) years for lower risk patients.
At Marion Smile Center, we provide some of the least expensive screening to protect your health. Screening for mouth or throat cancer at Marion Smile Center is typically $45* (price subject to change), but for the month of November 2023, it’s ½ off – only $22 – as a thank-you to our loyal patients!
As far as preventative testing goes, this fee is 5 times cheaper than the fee for a pap smear (around $125) and over 100 times cheaper than a colonoscopy (about $2,750)! This month, invest the minimal amount of $22 for an oral cancer screening as a form of self-care. You’re worth it!
Oral Cancer Screenings in Western PA
Make oral cancer screenings part of your regular healthcare routine, especially if you have any of the above high risk factors. Contact Marion Smile Center today to take advantage of our special offer for November 2023: 50% OFF Oral Cancer Screenings. To reserve time for an appointment with our friendly team, call 724.452.4300 or click here to fill out an appointment request form and we will be in touch.