SUFFERN, New York--Oral cancer is rising rapidly among young nonsmokers like chef Grant Achatz, 34, of the Alinea restaurant in Chicago.
Achatz recently appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to tell the public how to avoid the cancer that almost resulted in removal of his tongue. Had any of his dentists or doctors performed a BrushTest of the tiny white spot on his tongue, Achatz's oral cancer could have been prevented years before it could even start.
Oral cancer typically starts as a visible painless tiny white or red spot that contains still-harmless pre-cancerous (dysplastic) cells. These precancerous spots look identical to the common oral spots that almost everyone has at one time or another, which dentists see every day.
"The BrushTest, which Achatz's caregivers failed to perform, is the only painless way to know if a common, harmless-looking oral spot contains pre-cancerous cells, in which case the spot can then be easily removed by an oral surgeon," said Mark Rutenberg, CEO of Oral Cancer Prevention International, provider of the BrushTest.
"Patients should make sure that they go to a dentist where both the hygienist and dentist carefully search for any small spots in their mouth and perform a BrushTest to rule out pre-cancer. As Grant said to Oprah, patients need to be their own advocates," he added.
For the last 20 years, oral cancer has been rising among groups that used to be considered at low risk for the disease: women, people under 45, and nonsmokers. Oral cancer kills about as many Americans as melanoma and twice as many as cervical cancer. Because of the BrushTest, oral cancer is now a potentially preventable disease.
"The unfortunate thing is, there's such a simple thing," Achatz explained to Oprah on the show. "They have a test now. It's a simple brush that you stroke over the lesion and send it off to be analyzed. It's so easy to be prevented. The cancer, at that point when it was a tiny white dot, wasn't actually cancer. It was a level of dysplasia [pre-cancer], which could have been cut off--10 minutes in the office. But it got untreated and undiagnosed and went on and on, and it advanced to a stage IV. At that point, your treatment options are very limited and very aggressive."
The tiny (1 mm) white spot in Achatz's mouth persisted for three years. Four dental visits and a scalpel biopsy all missed the disease. A BrushTest report of still-harmless dysplasia obtained years before the spot evolved into cancer could have helped Achatz prevent the disease.
About the BrushTest
The BrushTest, used by dentists and physicians worldwide, is the only painless test for oral precancer and cancer. Oral cancer kills as many Americans as melanoma, twice as many as cervical cancer, and is rising among women, young people and non-smokers. Well more than 25% of those found to have oral cancer do not use tobacco or abuse alcohol. Recent studies have also shown a link between HPV and an increase in oral cancer.
OralCDx Laboratories--an oral pathology laboratory--is the exclusive global provider of the BrushTest, utilizing patented and proprietary tissue sampling and cell analysis systems. The BrushTest is a covered benefit under most medical and dental insurance plans.
The American Dental Association, in collaboration with OralCDx Laboratories, has recently embarked on a campaign to inform patients that--because of the BrushTest--oral cancer has joined the short list of cancers that can now be stopped, years before they can even start.
To watch the segment on the show, go to Grant Achatz interview.
For more information on the BrushTest, call (877) 672-5722 or visit Brush Test.
To read more about the Brush Test, go to Brush Test.
To comment on this topic, go to PennWell Dental Community site.