This year marks the 13th year that April has been designated as oral cancer awareness month.  Since a low level of public awareness of oral cancer still exists, the dental and medical communities need to make every effort possible to lift the level of public awareness and to support the development of a comprehensive program designed to more thoroughly screen for the disease. Perhaps as some motivation to raise the bar, one might recall these statistics every day before entering the office:  in 2012, nearly 37,000 patients (in just the United States) will be diagnosed with some form of oral or head and neck cancer, resulting in more than 8,000 deaths; that is one death per hour, 24 hours per day.  It is a disease that is often discovered late in its development; and now with HPV16 contributing more to the overall incidence of oral cancers (especially in the posterior regions of the oral cavity), early warning signs that have historically alerted the professional to the presence of disease are very often less visible.[1]

So, what is your dental community doing to detect oral cancer on you and your family?  Here at Nebraska Institute of Comprehensive Dentistry (NICD), for decades Dr. Sesemann has used tactile palpation and visual senses at check up exams, checking for lumps, bumps and tissue changes. Catching abnormalities early is key.  Nowadays exciting advancements in technology are available to take the cancer screening process one step further.  NICD has acquired optional equipment and is proud to use it on our patients.  Named VELscope, the non-invasive hand-help device uses stimulation of natural fluorescence to reveal diseased areas not yet visible or palpatable. There is no additional cost to our patients for this service. With statistics like a 5-year survival rate for oral cancer being approximately 83 percent, as compared to a 5-year survival rate of 32 percent when found at a later stage, it is comforting to know we are doing everything possible to catch things early.  

[1] Adams DDS, Damon, Editor-in-Chief, “April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month” Dentistry Today

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