During your recall exam, our doctors will perform a visual oral cancer screening. Our office also offers a more advanced Oral Cancer exam called Identafi. This is a three-wavelength technology using multi-spectral light to detect cancer on the cellular level before it is visible by the naked eye.
The How, What, and Why of the Identafi Oral Cancer Exam
Oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day. While the five-year mortality rates for oral cancer are higher than prostate cancer, we do not often hear about oral cancer.
Yet if caught early, it can be cured, with rates as high as 80 to 90 percent. This is why our dentists recommend you receive an Identafi Oral Cancer exam once per year. While any interested adult should ask for the exam, those with a family or personal history of cancer and anyone who uses or has used tobacco products are especially encouraged to do so.
Oral Cancer Screening
During your visit, our doctors always perform a visual oral cancer screening. But many times cancerous cells cannot be seen with the naked eye. The Identafi system uses a multi-spectral light to detect cancer on the cellular level. While some oral cancer systems use a blue light to examine your mouth, gums, and tongue, the Identafi system uses three different color wavelengths in order to better see the different types of cells and skin. The combination of all three Multi-Spectral wavelengths provides the clinician with more visual information, improved results over direct visual exam alone and increased confidence for recommending biopsies.
What happens during the screening?
A screening is easy. Dr. Klooster or Dr. Wall will wear special glasses and aim the Identafi light into your mouth. He or she will examine you using each type of light and then you’re done! The entire process is painless and takes only a few minutes.
How much does it cost?
Some insurance plans cover the cost of the screening, but some do not. We are happy to check on your plan’s coverage in advance. However, if your insurance does not cover it, the test only costs $35.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Unfortunately, oral cancer often does not come with symptoms. However, the following is a list of the most common. If you have any of these symptoms, please contact your dentist immediately for a checkup.
- A sore, lump or ulcer on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal
- A lump on the lip or in the mouth A lump in the neck
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue or lining of the mouth
- Unusual bleeding, pain or numbness in the mouth
- Oral pain that does not go away or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Difficulty or pain with chewing or swallowing
- Difficulty with jaw opening
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
- Tooth loosening
- Bad breath
- Sensory loss of the face
- Abnormal taste in the mouth
- Swallowing difficulty
- Tongue problems
If you have other questions about the Identafi Oral Cancer Exam, please contact us or ask during your next dental visit.