“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote has been heard time and time again, but do we really understand the impact prevention can have on our lives?  Regarding oral cancer, prevention and early detection is crucial to saving many lives.  Unlike other diseases, in its early stages it can be symptomless, going unnoticed until the cancer has spread to other areas.  When the cancer spreads, the five year survival rate is only about 53 percent, however, when oral cancer is detected in its early stages there is an 80 to 90 percent survival rate!  

Those at increased risk include anyone ages 40 and over, ages 18 to 39 combined with tobacco use (smoked or smokeless); chronic alcohol use, sun exposure, and oral HPV infection.  The highest risk group includes those ages 65 and older with the previously mentioned lifestyle risks and a previous oral cancer diagnosis.  When tobacco and chronic alcohol use are combined a person’s risk increases fifteen times more than those who don’t have these habits.  If you have any of these risk factors your dentist or hygienist may suggest an enhanced oral cancer screening like Vizilite Plus®. 

Vizilite Plus® is a simple, painless procedure that involves a rinse and the use of a light wand.  It helps detect tissue abnormalities that may go undetected during a standard visual exam.  If an unusual area is noticed during the exam, further testing may be necessary.  If a sore or abnormal area in your mouth persists for more than 14 days, it is essential to have it evaluated by your dentist immediately. A tissue biopsy may be necessary in order to establish a final diagnosis and to determine treatment.

Almost 50,000 people in the United States are affected by oral cancer every year and one in every four of these people had no risk factors when diagnosed. Over 10,000 people die from oral cancer each year.  That’s 1 person each hour.   These statistics are alarming but can be improved simply by prevention and early detection.  Through lifestyle changes and annual screenings you have the power to decrease your chances of getting oral cancer.

We at Cape May Dental Associates are committed to providing the best care possible for all our patients and are focused on prevention and early detection of all oral diseases.  Please feel free to inquire about Vizilite Plus® oral cancer screening exam at your next check-up.  We are offering $20 off Vizilite Plus for the month of April.  Call us at (609) 884-5335 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Ee today! Visit online at www.capemaydental.com

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