Oral cancer examinations have been the standard of care in dentistry for many decades. Every time you have a dental check up, your dentist should be performing an oral cancer screening, checking your tongue, cheeks, lips, throat and entire oral mucosa for any unusual discoloration, lumps, ulcers, etc. Dr. Katya also uses ViziLite oral cancer screening tools to aid in early detection.
Since many patients see their dentist more frequently than their medical doctor, dentistry provides a unigue opportunity to reduce the mortality/morbidity of the most common head and neck cancers.
In addition to oral cancer screening, Dr. Katya performs a head and neck skin cancer examination because the statistics are alarming:
- In the US alone, 35,000 oral cancers are diagnosed each year.
- 7,000 people die from oral cancer each year.
- The numbers for skin cancers are 30 times greater.
- Over 1 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually.
- 12,000 cases of skin cancer are fatal.
- 7 % are life threatening melanomas.
- The majority of skin cancers are found on the head and neck.
- One out of five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
- Today more than one person per hour dies from melanoma.
- Since 1994, non-melanoma skin cancer has increased over 300%, and melanoma has increased 100%.
- Skin cancer accounts for 50% of all diagnosed cancers.
- Early detection is the key to survival.
- Since this is such a serious and growing problem, Dr. Katya believes that if a patient has a head and neck cancer, most likely she will find it.
The life she saves could be yours!
Risk factors for skin cancer include:
Patient genetics: patient and family history of skin cancer, fair or depigmented skin, atypical moles, multiple moles
Past medical history: radiation exposure, immuno-suppresive medications, burns
Patient behaviors: tanning bed use, tobacco use, childhood sunburns, sunbelt migration
What to look for:
- Scabs that do not heal
- Areas that bleed easily
- New moles that look different than your other moles (know your moles!)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- 90% of skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV rays.
- Avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Wear UV protected sunglasses and hat with 2 inch brim.
- Protective clothing is more effective than sunscreen.
- Use sunscreen that protects from UVA and UVB with SPF 30 or higher, and reapply (especially to lips) every two hours.
- Look for sunscreens with the active ingredients zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, heioplex, mexoryl and avobenzone
Skin cancer, like oral cancer and other dental problems, is largerly preventable.