Oral Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Author: Jeff Salmeri

HEADLINE NEWS!

Doublemint twins stop deadly serial killer!

When interviewed one of the twins adjusted her white tennis mini and shuttered "Oh my! He was a dark smelly scary man!"

I was trying to discuss this news snippet with my hygienist, when she wrapped a piece of gauze around my tongue and started intently searching my mouth.  When she ended her search she calmly explained that I had just had an oral cancer screening.  I immediately knew I was in for it.  It was pay back for the time I lied and told my mom I had an overnight fieldtrip for biology class in 1978.  Luckily my hygienist said everything looked normal.  I'm one of the lucky ones. Oral cancer is serious business.

Did you know that one American dies every hour from oral cancer and the number is increasing.* The most shocking fact I learned from my hygienist was that more people die each year from oral cancer then from cervical cancer. You don't have to be a lumberjack or a bull ridin' cowboy to be at risk either.  TobaccoDentist Oral Cancer Screening and alcohol are big contributors, but 25% of oral cancer victims have none of the lifestyle risk factors in their history.   ** Sadly, most oral cancer deaths occur from lack of early detection and the victims die within 5 years.  HOW COME MORE PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT THIS!

As a regular part of your dental exam, your dentist and hygienist will do an oral cancer screening to look for any abnormalities.  It is quick and painless and there is no charge for the screening.   If anything suspicious is noted they can do a quick non-invasive lab lest called a Chemiluminescent Assay.  (My spell check thinks I made this up and suggested chimichurri.)  One brand name is Vizilite, it is a blue light test that helps reveal tissue that might be suspicious. They may also take a brush biopsy and send it to the lab.

Don't let lack of insurance coverage deter you from this life saving information.  If your group plan does not allow for the test, ask your employer about adding it to next years group benefits and call your insurance company and let them know you think this is important. The ADA has gotten behind the test and they have created an official dental CPT code so your dentist can submit it to your insurance company.

So insist that your dental hygienist do regular oral cancer screenings and next time you think of reaching for that tobacco tin, try Doublemint instead, it could save your life!

*vizilite.com

** oralcancerfoundation.org

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