Every hour of every day, an American dies of oral cancer. Sadly, the mortality rate associated with oral cancer has made no significant improvements in the last forty years. The death rate for oral cancer in the United States is higher than those of cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, and cancers of the brain, liver, testes, kidneys, and ovaries. Additionally, more than thirty-thousand Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year. In five years, only fifty-seven-percent of those Americans will remain living. Moreover, twenty-seven-percent of oral cancer victims do not use tobacco or alcohol, and they have no other lifestyle risk factors.
Oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases when caught early. That is why the Trimera Identafi 3000 exam has been developed. The Identafi 3000 exam utilizes technology that has proven successful in identifying soft tissue abnormalities in other areas of the body, allowing it to be painless, fast, and, most importantly, life-saving. An annual Identafi 3000 exam, in combination with a regular visual examination, is particularly important for patients with an increased risk of developing oral cancer.
Benefits and Expectations
When oral cancer is diagnosed in its later stages, the treatment is expensive and disfiguring, and the survival rate is poor. However, when oral cancer is found in the earliest stage, the treatment is quicker, simpler, and more than ninety-percent successful. LI Center for Healthier Dentistry utilizes the Trimira Identafi 3000 exam to assist in the early detection of abnormal mouth tissue, especially those not visible during a regular exam. At the conclusion of an Identafi 3000 exam, patients can be confident that they have received the most comprehensive oral cancer screening available.
Who is at Risk?
Oral Cancer Risk by Patient Profile:
- Increased Risk: Patients ages eighteen through thirty-nine with no lifestyle risk factors.
- High Risk: Patients aged forty and older with no risk factors OR patients aged eighteen through thirty-nine with lifestyle risk factors.
- Highest Risk: Patients aged forty and older with lifestyle risk factors OR patients with a history of oral cancer.
Lifestyle Risk Factors for Oral Cancer:
- Tobacco use (any type, any age, within ten years).
- Alcohol consumption of at least one drink per day (three ounces of hard liquor, four ounces of wine, or twelve ounces of beer).
- Immune deficiencies such as HIV and AIDS.
Human Papilloma Virus, particularly HPV 16/18.
Areas Most Commonly Effected by Oral Cancer:
- The front two-thirds of the tongue.
- The lining of the cheeks and lips (buccal mucosa).
- The floor of mouth under the tongue.
- The roof of the mouth (hard palate).
- The gums (gingiva).
- The small areas behind the wisdom teeth.
The minor salivary glands.
Most oral cancers look very similar under a microscope. They are called "squamous cell" carcinomas. They are malignant and tend to rapidly spread.
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. In addition to facilitating gas exchange in the lungs, Squamous epithelium also lines other body cavities and capillaries in order to reduce friction.
Carcinoma is any malignant cancer that arises from epithelial cells. Carcinomas invade surrounding tissues and organs, and they 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, allowing them to enter lymphatic and blood vessels, circulate through the bloodstream, and settle down and 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, oral cancer is best treated when found early, when cure rates are greater than eighty-percent.
Identifying the stage of the oral cancer helps to determine the best course of treatment.
The stages include:
- Stage I. The cancer is no more than two centimeters, and it has not spread to lymph nodes in the area.
- Stage II. The cancer is more than two centimeters but less than four centimeters, and it has not spread to lymph nodes in the area.
- Stage III. Either of the following may be true: the cancer is more than four centimeters or 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 following 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 return in the lip and oral cavity, or in another part of the body.