Are you worried about oral cancer?
Dr. Keerti has done advanced training in Oral medicine, a field of dentistry that bridges the gap between dentistry and medicine and deals with oral pathologies such as oral cancer and precancerous states. She believes in doing an oral cancer exam on all patients at each recall visit. Her passion for the field of Oral medicine directly translates into premium care for her patients. Dr. Keerti is a part –time faculty member in the department of Oral medicine at the UW school of dentistry.
More than 34,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. Of those 34,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only half will be alive in 5 years.
Cause and Risk FactorsThe path that brings people to oral cancer contains at least two distinct etiologies (CAUSATIVE FACTORS) one through tobacco and alcohol and another via the HPV (HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS) virus. The HPV virus may be transmitted through sexual contact. The risk of acquiring this virus increases as the number of sexual partners increases. The malignancy sites associated with each pathway appear to also be different from each other. In the broadest terms they can be differentiated into these areas; HPV related lesions appear to occur on the tonsil area, the base of the tongue and the throat and non-HPV positive tumors tend to involve the anterior tongue, floor of the mouth, the mucosa that covers the inside of the cheeks and alveolar ridges (the ridge area in which the teeth reside).
Signs & Symptoms
You are the most important factor in an early diagnosis. You should always contact your doctor or dentist immediately if you notice the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one:
- A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
- A lump or thickening in the cheek.
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth.
- A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
- These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious problems, but they also indicate the possible presence of oral cancer. Only a professional will be able to tell you definitively.
Diagnosis & Prevention
Visual ExamThere is no substitute for education and awareness on the part of the patient and the clinician. Dr. Keerti has done a residency in Oral Medicine and Diagnosis (the field that deals with clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment of oral and facial pathologies and conditions) from university of WA. She continues to be a faculty member in the department of Oral Medicine and keeps up with the latest. She is also a reviewer for the Journal of contemporary dentistry in the field of Oral Medicine and pathology. She believes in a complete Oral and head and neck exam at each recall /check up visit. She encourages her patients to familiarize themselves with the causes and signs and symptoms of Oral cancer. One of the best resources on this topic is the cancer foundation.
ViziliteIf you or the doctor encounters a suspicious looking lesion, a completely non-invasive, painless and easy exam called a vizilite exam can be performed. This exam is usually covered by your insurance provider. First, you will be instructed to rinse with a cleansing solution. Next, the overhead lighting will be dimmed. Then, your mouth is examined using Vizilite Plus, a specially designed light technology. Go to http:// www.vizilite.com
Oral CDXAnother new way to test for oral cancer before incisional biopsy is beginning to be used by dental professionals -- a system called Oral CDx. Here, a dentist uses a small brush to gather cell samples of a suspicious area. The specimen is then sent to a lab for computer analysis. In a recent study of 945 patients, Oral CDx detected all cases of oral cancer correctly, even when dentists didn't suspect the presence of cancer from the lesion. This oral brush biopsy procedure is simple, and. results in very little or no pain or bleeding, and requires no topical or local anesthetic.
IF YOU NEED HELP WITH SMOKING OR TOBACCO CESSATION TALK TO YOUR MD OR YOUR DENTIST. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH ALL THE RISK FACTORS. EARLY DETECTION IMPROVES THE CHANCE OF A SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT OUTCOME.
Call (425) 558-ENSO (3676), if you are worried about a suspicious sore in your mouth.