One person in the United States dies of oral cancer every hour, a death rate that has changed little over decades.
SmileCare Family Dentistry, operator of more than 60 multi-specialty dental centers in California and Nevada, has announced that its offices now offer state-of-the-art oral cancer exams using the quick and painless ViziLite Plus with TBlue630 illumination and marking technology.
In less than five minutes, a SmileCare dentist will conduct a thorough oral cavity exam. Following a conventional exam, the dentist will use the FDA-approved ViziLite Plus "glow stick" or "light wand" technology to help detect pre-malignant abnormalities and oral cancer.
As with most cancers, the key to improving outcomes is early detection. The average five-year survival rate for all cases of oral cancer is only 57 percent; detection at late-stage causes survival rates to drop to 18-21 percent. With early detection, survival rates soar above 80 percent.
"Patients don't often think of their dentist as being a potential life-saver, but the reality is they are," said Ivan Berger, DDS, MAGD, SmileCare's Chief Dental Director. Oral cancer can affect anyone, especially those over age 40 who use tobacco or drink heavily. But more than a quarter of all cases occur in people with no known risk behaviors.
Oral cancer among women is a particular concern. The American Cancer Society projects about the same number of new cases of oral cancer among women (10,180) as they project for cervical cancer in the current year. Human papillomavirus has been on the increase in women between ages 18-40. HPV has been identified as a risk factor for oral cancer in women.
"Women have become accustomed to annual Pap smears; they need to recognize the importance of annual oral cancer exams as well," Dr. Berger noted.
"Quality of patient care is the No. 1 concern of SmileCare dentists," he said. "We are pleased to extend this vital additional service throughout our system."
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For information about ViziLite Plus, marketed by Zila Pharmaceuticals, visit ViziLite.