Oral Cancer Screening

What is Oral Cancer?

At Cedar Pearl Dentistry we are committed to providing our patients with all of the latest technology for Oral Cancer Screening. We use a highly specialized light source instrument to detect oral cancer in the mouth. Look at our Video to explain how it works.

What should you know about Oral Cancer?

Oral Cancer is growing at an alarming rate. Oral Cancer is more deadly than Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer and Prostrate Cancer, and kills one person every hour of every day! Oral Cancer was once only associated with heavy smokers or drinkers, but Oral Cancer is being found in frightening rates in non-smokers and non-drinkers alike.

Exposure to the HPV-16 and HPV-18 (human papilloma virus) is the fastest growing risk factor for Oral Cancer. This is the same virus that is responsible for the majority of cervical cancers in women. The virus presents a 5x increase in occurrence of Oral under the age of 40, and it has been recommended that all patients over the age of 17 be screened annually.

The Test

Identafi 3000 UltraThe test is quite simple, painless and takes less than 5 minutes. At Cedar Pearl Dentistry we use the Identafi 3000 ultra in the white light mode to look at all of the surfaces of the mouth.

The instrument is then switched to a "Florescent Violet Light" to identify any areas of abnormal tissue growth, which may be benign or cancerous.

Finally, the instrument is switched to “Green-Amber Reflectance Light” to examine blood vessels around any lesions that might be found. Lesions with abnormal growth are more likely to be malignant. Please speak with any of our staff regarding our comprehensive oral cancer screening.

Oral cancer most commonly involves:

  • the front 2/3 of the tongue
  • the soft tissue lining of the cheeks lips, and hard tissues in the mouth
  • the floor of mouth under the tongue
  • the roof of the mouth (hard palate)
  • the gums (gingiva)
  • the small area behind the wisdom teeth (the retromolar trigone)
  • the minor salivary glands

Most oral cancers look very similar under the microscope and are called "squamous cell" carcinomas. These are malignant and tend to spread rapidly. Our dental staff routinely will screen for Oral cancer during your exam and treatment times. Areas that look suspicious should be evaluated in further depth, or if you request we can do an examination with our state of the art highly-specialized cancer screening instrument that uses light spectrum.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous epithelium is the tissue that lines the mouth, throat, tongue and tonsils. These tissue cells are irregularly shaped and very flat. Squamous epithelium also lines other body cavities and capillaries to reduce friction, as well as lining the lungs to facilitate gas exchange.

Carcinoma is any malignant cancer that arises from epithelial cells. Carcinomas invade surrounding tissues and organs and may "metastasize"., or spread, to lymph nodes and other sites.

Metastasis, is the spread of a disease from one organ or body part to another non-adjacent organ or body part. Only malignant tumor cells and infections have the capacity to metastasize. Cancer cells can "break away", "leak", or "spill" from a primary tumor, enter lymphatic and blood vessels, circulate through the bloodstream, and settle down to grow within normal tissues elsewhere in the body.

Oral Cancer is often detected late in development, when the possibility of metastasis is much greater. Like most cancers, cancer of the lip and oral cavity is best treated when found early - when cure rates are greater than 80%.

Determination of the stage of cancer in the lip or oral cavity is important in order to plan the best course of treatment.

There are a number of stages:

Stage I. The cancer is no more than 2 centimeters and has not spread to lymph nodes in the area

Stage II. The cancer is more than 2 centimeters but less than 4 centimeters and has not spread to lymph nodes in the area

Stage III. Either of the following may be true - the cancer is more than 4 centimeters; the cancer is any size but has spread to only one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer.

Stage IV. Any of the previous may be true - the cancer has spread to tissues around the lip or oral cavity; the lymph nodes in the area may or may not contain cancer; the cancer is any size and has spread to more than one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer, to lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck, or to any lymph node that measures more than 6 centimeters.

Recurrent. The cancer has returned after it has been treated. It may come back in the lip and oral cavity or be found in another part of the body.