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Alabama Family Dentistry | Oral Cancer Screening
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Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer Screening | Alabama Family Dentistry | 4 Alabama locationsThe Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer screening is becoming more common as the numbers of those diagnosed with this particular type of cancer continues to increase. According to the American Dental Association, (ADA), roughly over 40,000 individuals will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone. Further adding to these alarming statistics is the number of those with a five year survival rate, which is barely over half. This is where Alabama Family Dentistry comes in. With the advanced Oral ID technologies, they may be able to discover and treat the cancer in earlier stages, which is crucial to survival rates.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can best be defined as any type of cancer that affects the structures of the mouth. This includes areas of the oral cavity such as lips, gums, palette, cheeks and even the tongue and back of the throat. Initially, there may be no signs or symptoms indicative of cancer as the individual may be asymptomatic. Warning signs such as sores within the mouth, hoarseness that does not go away and patches may not be evident until the cancer has reached later stages and has a less than favorable prognosis. This is why the Oral ID technology is so useful in oral cancer screening.

How Does It Work?

Using advanced technology, this system can help screen for cancer before it advances into the later stages. This means that changes that may not be visible during a routine checkup can be visualized. The procedure is actually quite simple and consists of utilizing a special light that can assist in detecting changes indicative of cancer. It can be completed in minimal time, often when the patient comes for the routine exam and does not cause any type of pain or discomfort.

Who Should Be Screened?

Some individuals are considered higher risk than others for oral cancer. This includes smokers, former smokers and those who consume alcohol on a regular basis. Those over 40, or younger with risk factors, those with an oral HPV infection or a prior history of cancer of the oral structure or throat are also considered more at risk.  Other factors may also play a role in developing this type of cancer.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone 17 and older receive an annual oral cancer screening.

Where to Obtain Screening?

Oral ID screening is not available at all dental offices as this technology is fairly new. Alabama Family Dentistry is among the select providers who offer this service to their patients.  This service is available to both new and existing patients and can be performed during a routine checkup or separate appointment. When used properly, it can help detect cancer in the earliest and most treatable stages.

Are You At Risk?

Increased risk

    • Patients age 40 and older (95% of all cases)
    • 18-39 years of age combined with the following:
      • Tobacco use
      • Chronic alcohol consumption
      • Oral HPV infection

Highest risk

  • Patients age 65 and older with lifestyle risk factors
  • Patients with history of oral cancer
25% of oral cancers occur in people who don’t smoke and have no other risk factors.