The simple answer to the question – “Do I Need an Oral Cancer Exam?” – is yes if you have a family or personal history of cancer and use or have used tobacco products, but any interested adult may want to have the exam yearly as well. This is because like most cancers, oral cancer can develop without any symptoms occurring, and early detection and treatment can cure it.
If caught at a late stage, however, oral cancer has a high mortality rate, with 40 percent of those diagnosed then dying within five years. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer annually, and the death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid.
Fortunately, it is simple to do an oral cancer exam and lessen your chances of becoming a statistic. We at Klooster Family Dentistry employ the Identafi oral cancer exam, a process that is quick and painless.
The Easy Steps in Our Exam
Our exam starts by looking for any swelling, bumps, patches of discoloration, ulcerations, asymmetry and abnormalities on your face, neck, lips, inside of your nose and mouth. We will check for masses or unusual nodules as well.
Still, a visual inspection cannot detect all cancerous cells. That’s where the Identafi system enters. We use it this way:
- The Identafi light shines in your mouth. Your dentist will wear special glasses at the same time to view your mouth.
- Three multi-spectral wavelengths will appear. These different wavelengths allow us to better see the different types of cells and skin on your mouth, gums and tongue.
- Your dentist examines each wavelength individually. After that, you’re done and will receive the results of your exam. That’s it!
The combination of all three Multi-Spectral wavelengths provides us with more visual information in increased confidence for recommending biopsies and reduces the need for follow-up biopsy should cancerous cells be found. It’s affordable too, only $35 if your insurance plan does not cover the procedure.