It’s April and everyone knows what that means: Happy Oral Cancer Awareness month! I thought I’d remind everyone about what oral cancer is (read this post from 2012), what some of the risk factors are for oral cancer (read this post from 2012 too) (hey, I re-read these posts and they were still awesome so we’re sticking with them) and what your West Seattle dentist, Dr. Kirchner does in her office to screen EVERY. SINGLE. PATIENT. for oral cancer.
Dr Kirchner does a quick visual examination where she will look at all of your tissues (ie: cheeks, gums, tongue, throat) through her special magnifying glasses. Then she will use the Velscope (the medical equivalent of, basically, a black light, read more about it here) to check to make sure there isn’t any unusual blood flow to any the tissues in your mouth. If there is, it will look different under the light. At that point, she would refer you to a specialist, most likely an oral surgeon, to do a biopsy to make sure everything is A-OK!
You may be asking yourself “but if it is cancerous, now what????”. The great thing about the Velscope is that it catches abnormalities at a very early (read: more treatable) stage of the cancer process. If Dr. Kirchner or you only noticed the weird patch or lump in your mouth, since you could actually see it, it would most likely mean that it was at a more advanced (read: less treatable) stage of cancer. So phew! Thank goodness for the Velscope!
Another thing to note is, and especially if you have one or more of the risk factors, how VERY IMPORTANT regular dental checkups are. Because Dr. Kirchner does a visual exam every cleaning and a Velscope exam once a year, she is able to closely monitor and detect at a very early stage if something develops out of the ordinary in your mouth. HOORAY for you doing your regular 6 month cleanings!!!
Is it time for your check up? Do you have something weird going on in your mouth? Give the office a call today and get scheduled to have an Oral Cancer screening with Dr. Kirchner!If you haven’t experienced an exam with the Velscope and would like to see what its all about, check out this awesome Dr. Oz video where he has a dentist demonstrate how to use it on a real patient on his show!!
****** Dr. Kirchner and her blog author don’t necessarily endorse, nor un-endorse Dr. Oz. He just happened to have a great video that demonstrated how a Velscope works.******
****This post was re-published with a few minor changes from April 2013****