Oral Cancer screening….easy as dye.
By Alison Logee, RDH, Ayurveda and Reiki Practitioner
One American dies every hour from oral cancer, a death rate remained unchanged for over 40 years and is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the brain, liver, testes, kidney, or ovary. More than 30,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year and in five years, only 57% will survive. (The American Cancer Society). According to the Canadian cancer society, in 2007, 3,200 people were diagnosed with oral cancer and resulted in 1,100 deaths. Currently, there are more cases of oral cancer diagnosed in a year than cervical or ovarian cancer and more deaths occur from oral cancer than from melanoma or cervical cancer. Smoking, drinking alcohol and the human papilloma virus, (HPV), are strong contributing factors although 25% of oral cancer victims do not have these lifestyle risk factors. The following link is a “must read”: http://www.cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-74/issue-3/269.pdf During your regular dental hygiene visit, a systematic intra oral and extra oral exam should be performed. This conventional visual and palpating examination screens you for suspicious lesions of the head and neck. In addition, there are adjuncts available such as a chemiluminescent light source to improve the identification of oral lesions and a blue phenothiazine dye to mark those lesions. It is a non-invasive and inexpensive test. If any suspicious lesion is revealed, your Dental Hygienist will refer you to a Doctor of oral pathology for further testing and diagnosis. Early detection and diagnosis of oral cancer is 90% curable.