Oral cancer is a broad term describing any cancer that develops in the “mouth cavity”, including the tongue, gums, and cheeks. The Chicago dentist community has observed an increase in oral cancer diagnoses, which is consistent with national research showing a 61% increase from 2011-2015 in insurance claims for oral cancer. It is currently estimated that in the U.S., one person dies every hour from this disease. However, it is curable, and early detection can significantly increase the survival rate. At Art of Modern Dentistry, we encourage you to be aware of the causes and symptoms of oral cancer so your Chicago dentist can help you detect it.
The most direct causes of oral cancer are excessive alcohol and tobacco use. 80% of oral cancer patients use tobacco, and 70% are heavy drinkers. Those who work primarily outdoors are at risk as well, since prolonged sun exposure can be linked to the disease. Another potential risk is the rising prevalence of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which easily infects the skin and membranes of the mouth area. HPV is a leading cause of other cancers, and has been connected to oral cancer as well.
The first thing a Chicago dentist looks for when checking for oral cancer is a lesion anywhere in the mouth cavity. Cancerous lesions are difficult to distinguish from the average benign oral lesion, but according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, any sore or growth lasting over 2 weeks is worthy of a definitive biopsy. Other signs of oral cancer could include loose teeth, sore throat, and pain anywhere in the mouth cavity.
Detection with VELscope
At Art of Modern Dentistry, we recognize the importance of early detection. That’s why we use VELscope, an innovative and noninvasive technology that allows our dentists to locate abnormal tissue within minutes using only blue light. VELscope makes it easy to find and diagnose even the smallest problem areas and get you the treatment you need right away.