Dr. Caves is concerned with overall oral health, not just the health of teeth and gums. As part of our routine dental care services, we screen our patients for oral cancer.
Oral cancer screening allows cancer to be identified in the early stages of development. When caught early, patients with oral cancer have an 80 to 80% survival rate. Unfortunately, most cases of oral cancer are found in the later stages, accounting for the high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis and high treatment-related morbidity in survivors.
Current research shows a strong link between particular strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV, most notably strain 16) and a certain type of oral cancer that occurs in the oropharynx (middle part of the throat). HPV 16 is the same strain associated with almost all cervical cancer. Many experts now recommend that all adult patients over the age of 18 receive a thorough intra- and extra-oral head and neck exam annually.
We use state-of-the-art oral cancer screening equipment to identify problems early. The VELscope Vx shines a blue excitation light into the oral cavity. Abnormal tissue typically appears as an irregular, dark area that stands out against the green fluorescence pattern of surrounding healthy tissue.
The oral cancer screening is completed in less than 2 minutes and does not expose the patient to radiation.