I have chosen Oral Cancer as the topic of my first blog because I want my patients to realize how widespread and deadly this disease is and how early detection can save your life. Over the years, I have detected 6 cases of squamous cell carcinoma through visual examination of the tongue, tonsillar area, floor of the mouth, and throat as part of my routine 'recall examination'. Unfortunately 4 of those patients died from the disease. Statistics show that over 40% of those diagnosed will die within 5 years because by the time the lesion is visible to the naked eye, it is usually at an advanced stage. As you can imagine, it was devastating for these patients , their families, and for me as well.
With new technology, we are now able to identify abnormal tissue that is not apparent to the naked eye. Using a small, handheld mirror which emits 3 distinct colour wavelengths, we can now clearly see the size and shape of the early lesion and the nature of its blood supply. The test is painless and only takes a few minutes. Statistics show that there is an 80% five- year survival rate when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage.
We used to think that oral cancer only affected males over the age of 50 who were heavy drinkers and smokers. Statistics now show that over 50% of oral cancer lesions have been found to contain HPV - 16 virus (human papilloma virus) which is widespread throughout the entire population. This alarming fact has dramatically changed our approach to this disease and emphasizes the need for routine screening using the latest technology.
Oral Cancer kills one person, every hour, of every day, and is growing at an alarming rate. It is more deadly than cervical cancer, thyroid cancer, hodgkin's lymphoma, and skin cancer (malignant melanoma). The mortality rate associated with oral cancer has not improved significantly in the last 40 years. I am confident that these upsetting statistics will improve as more and more people insist on routine oral cancer screening.
We now offer the Infiniti 3000 , which is the latest technology in early detection of oral cancer, to all of our patients. I am optimistic that with our ability to diagnose 'early stage' oral cancer, survival rates will improve and we will finally begin to see a reversal of the frightening trends that have been observed in the last four decades.
Dr. Brian Kaplansky