Oral Cancer Screening
Every year, almost 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. This figure has continued to increase each year at an alarming rate. Oral cancer can affect the mouth, tongue, throat and even tonsils. There are two main causes of oral cancer–tobacco and alcohol use and exposure to a HPV, the human papilloma virus. When caught early during your general dental care, survival rates are excellent (80-90%). Unfortunately though, most oral cancers are not detected until late stage, which is why the death rate from oral cancer is so high (45-50% five years after the initial diagnosis). This is a serious disease–one that kills one American every hour or every day.
Mouth Cancer Testing
Who is at risk for oral cancer?
For years, it was believed that oral cancer was mostly associated with tobacco use, this is no longer the case. For people younger than 50 years old, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the primary cause. HPV is a virus that is transmitted through skin and sexual contact. Many HPVs are totally benign to humans, but HPV-16 is not. It is the primary cause of not only oral cancer, but also cervical cancer in woman. There are over 20 million people in the US infected with HPV and this number grows every year, so oral cancer continues to be on the rise as well. In addition to HPV and tobacco, it is now known that alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing oral cancer.
How does Cosmetic Dentistry Cancun screen for oral cancer?
At each visit, the doctors and hygienists evaluate the oral tissues for obvious cancer lesions. We also recommend that you have an advanced cancer screening once every year (like PAP-smears, PSA tests etc). This advanced screening uses a specific medical device (ViziLite or VELscope) which use a special light that shows the cancer before it is visible to our eyes. This procedure is totally painless and non-invasive. It does not use dyes or stains and only takes a couple of minutes to perform.
It is important that you let us know immediately if you notice any new or unusual lumps, bumps, ulcers or unusually colored parts of your mouth, gums, cheeks, tongue or throat.
Oral Cancer Tests
Will insurance pay for my screenings?
Better dental and medical insurance plans WILL cover oral cancer screenings. In addition, you can use flex-spending or health savings accounts (FSA and HSA) to reimburse for this procedure. We will be happy to help to see if your insurance will cover the screening test. However, we feel strongly that this is YOUR health and that your insurance does not have the right to dictate the quality or level of your dental and medical care. As such, we encourage our patients to have screenings each year regardless of payment reimbursement from insurance companies.
If you suspect your may have an oral issue, please contact our Cancer Screenings Specialists at Cosmetic Dentistry Cancun today to schedule an appointment to test for any mouth cancer. Early detection is vitally important, so contact us today.