Ask your dentist to test for oral cancer

Every hour of every day, in the United States, one American dies of oral cancer. This deadly disease is the sixth leading cause of c
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Every hour of every day, in the United States, one American dies of oral cancer. This deadly disease is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths in America with no significant improvement in the survival rate in the past 40 years.

If discovered in its early stages, oral cancer is 90 percent curable, but less than 50 percent curable if discovered in later stages.

To help increase survivability, more dentists are offering their patients the benefits of ViziLite, the only FDA-cleared technology for screening of oral abnormalities in patients at increased risk for oral cancer.

ViziLite is an easy, painless and non-invasive examination that more and more dentists are incorporating into their annual oral health wellness exam. The exam is a three-step process and takes only a few minutes. First, the patient rinses with a raspberry-tasting solution to prepare for the exam after which the dentist snaps the ViziLite lightstick, activating it so that it glows. The dentist then places the light stick in a retractor and shines it in the patient’s mouth while examining the oral tissue for abnormalities.

ViziLite was developed as a screening technology to improve the traditional method of detecting abnormalities. Once pre-cancer or cancer can be seen or felt by a health care practitioner, it has possibly already advanced to the late stages where it is considerably less curable.

More than 30,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year; 8,000 Americans die annually from oral cancer, making this type of cancer deadlier than cervical, brain, ovary or skin cancers. More than 50 percent of patients diagnosed with oral cancer will die within five years. Those considered high-risk are:

• 40 and older

• Users of smoking or chewing tobacco, currently or within the past 10 years

• Users of one or more alcoholic drinks daily, including one beer, one glass of wine or one drink of spirits

Any combination of these high-risk factors increases risk exponentially. Alarmingly, more than 25 percent of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors.

“Dentists are the first line of defense in the reduction of deaths related to oral cancer, which takes more lives each year than cancers we commonly hear of, such as cervical and skin cancers,” said Brian Hill, executive director of the Oral Cancer Foundation. “Devices that assist in the early discovery of suspect tissues have the potential to help turn the tide of oral cancer’s extremely high death rate.”