Oral Cancer Awareness Month

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Are you asking yourself “Do I have oral cancer?” When we first make a discovery of something that doesn’t look normal, it can be somewhat daunting. We watch and wait in hopes that it just magically disappears. Clinically speaking, when an abnormality persists beyond 14 days it warrants assessment and further evaluation.

To say that oral cancer is typically painless carries a degree of truth; however that is somewhat of a broad sweeping statement. Due to the fact that changes begin beneath the surface, a lot may have transpired that involves the surrounding anatomical structures, nerves, blood vessels and lymph nodes that we may have no awareness of. This involvement may lead to inclusion of a variety of symptoms such as intermittent ear pain, feeling like something is caught in the throat, hoarseness etc. pending the stage of the disease and the extent of involvement of surrounding areas. 

What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?

Oral cancer may present as a red, black, brown or white area. It may be raised or flat, contain well or ill defined borders, may be blister like or sloughing, or may feel like a hardness beneath the surface. These are some of the defining characteristics that may be present. The key though is persistence.  

So what are the next steps should we find something abnormal? If we see something visible inside the mouth that persists for more than 14 days, schedule an appointment with your dentist. If you feel something that is only occurring on one side such as a hard lump in the neck that persists beyond 14 days see your physician. If you identify a hardness on the tongue, floor of mouth, palate, inside the cheeks that once again persists beyond 14 days get it checked by your dentist. Persistence is key and concerns should never be ignored. 

A dental practice that provides a VELscope examination would be of particular value in providing additional information, particularly when there is an identified hardness, color or texture change within the mouth that is not healing or disappearing. VELscope has a capability of being able to see beneath the surface where cancer begins to develop. VELscope examinations are provided worldwide and employ the same technology that is used in other areas of the body, including the cervix, lungs and the colon. The examination takes a couple of minutes and provides the clinician with an opportunity to see beyond what the traditional white light examination reveals. To find a VELscope practice in your area, click here to use our tool and enter your postal or zip code.   

Take every opportunity you can to catch any abnormality in its earliest stages.  You’ll be glad you did.  




Author: Jo-Anne Jones

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Erron S Brady

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What is Adjunctive Oral Cancer Screening?

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