One person dies every hour from oral cancer in the United States. And while the American Cancer Society estimates that overall cancer incidence and deaths have decreased, oral cancer incidence rose 5.5 percent, and oral cancer deaths increased 1.5 percent over the last reporting period. Late detection of oral cancer is the primary cause of high mortality rates associated with this disease.
Midwest Dental doctors are offering a new screening tool that helps detect oral cancer earlier. Dr. Jeff Moos, president and CEO of Midwest Dental, announced that the new technology, known as ViziLite Plus is now available in all Midwest Dental practices, including the office in Chetek.
"Midwest Dental is committed to leading the fight against oral cancer and recognizes that early detection is the key to reducing the mortality rate associated with this disease," said Dr. Moos. "We are proud to provide ViziLite exams as an integral part of our current annual comprehensive oral cancer screening program and as a way to enhance and protect our patients' overall health."
According to the American Cancer Society, oral cancer is 82 percent curable if discovered in its early stages. ViziLite technology, when used in conjunction with the standard oral cancer examination, has been proven superior to the unaided exam in numerous clinical trials involving over 13,000 patients.
ViziLite is a quick and painless exam. The patient uses a rinse to dry the tissue in the mouth. Using a special glow stick, the dentist looks for abnormalities. Anything that is abnormal appears white, while healthy tissue absorbs the light and appears dark.
As with other types of cancer, age is the primary risk factor for oral cancer, with 95 percent of oral cancer victims being 40 and older. However, all adults age 18 and older are considered to be at increased risk for oral cancer. Oral cancer risk by patient profile is listed below:
Increased risk - Patients age 18-39; sexually active Human Papilloma Virus (HPV strain 16-18);
High risk - Patients age 40 and older; tobacco users 18 years and older;
Highest risk - Patients age 40 and older and lifestyle risk factors (tobacco use) and/or patients with a history of oral cancer.
The increased prevalence of (HPV) Human Papilloma Virus (a sexually transmitted disease linked to cervical cancer) has raised concern with oral cancer in young adults having no other risk factors.
"Many patients are glad to have us take this extra precaution to protect them from the devastation of oral cancer," said Dr. Moos. "The ViziLite exam can absolutely help save lives by allowing our doctors to detect pre-cancerous conditions as well as the disease itself."