Oral Cancer Screening
Oral Cancer Screening (OCS) is a thorough examination of the oral cavity and the adjacent structures including the Thyroid gland and the lymph nodes around the neck.
WHO REQUIRES ORAL CANCER SCREENING:
Anyone at any age might experience abnormal conditions in their oral cavity or the lymph nodes. These abnormalities might or might not be noticeable to the patient. It is important to have a clinician check all surfaces visually, by palpation and by an enhanced oral assessment system called VELscope® VX.
The primary risk factors for Oral Cancer are known to be smoking or chewing tobacco, frequent or excessive alcohol consumption, history of a sexually transmitted disease called Human Papilloma Virus or HPV16, excessive sun exposure to the lips, a weakened immune system and a past history of cancer, including family history of oral cancer. Studies show that historically, oral cancer was mostly diagnosed in people over the age of 40, but unfortunately a multitude of people with or without the risk factors have been diagnosed with oral cancer in their 20s and 30s in the last two decades.
The death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development since in its early stage it may not be noticed by the patient.
We strongly recommend Oral Cancer Screening to any patient over the age of 18, annually or biannually depending on the medical history. Early diagnosis is the key to increased survival rate.
Our clinical staff will inform you prior to performing the screening. It will include observation of the lips and the surrounding skin for any abnormal changes in the color or texture, palpation of the lymph nodes around the neck and under the chin, palpation of the lips, cheeks and the tongue looking for any abnormal growths. Then the hygienist will use VELscope® VX to check the floor of the mouth, sides of the tongue, inside of the cheeks, hard and soft palate and the tonsillar region. VELscope® VX is a none-invasive blue light that detects fluorescence pattern changes related to oral lesions.
Not all lesions detected by VELscope® VX are cancerous. Lesions detected in the front of the mouth are usually related to tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Lesions detected in the rear of the mouth, oropharynx, are most frequently caused by HPV16 virus and tobacco use. Oropharyngeal cancers occur mostly in the tonsils and at the base of the tongue.
Abnormalities related to possible oral cancer in the jaw will be detected in the radiographs we take annually at our clinic.
In order to diagnose if a lesion or abnormality in the mouth is cancerous, pre-cancerous or benign, we refer the patients to an Oral Surgeon to confirm and perform a biopsy if needed. We will receive a report from the Oral Surgeon and follow up with our patients.
It is possible that the detected soft tissue abnormality is not cancerous. Any abnormality will be noted in the patient’s medical history. Dr. Natour and the hygienist will observe the lesion for any changes in the future during every visit and the annual oral cancer screenings.
Insurance coverage for oral cancer screening varies widely depending on your plan. The premium plans will cover oral cancer screening in adult patients once per year. The office of Dr. Mazen Natour will handle all insurance matters for its patients. Please call us if you have any questions about your coverage.