Easy test for oral cancer

Mouth and throat cancers are on the rise, and doctors say tobacco, alcohol, and the HPV virus are often to blame. 

That's why it's more important, than ever, to get your mouth checked for early warning signs! 

We talked to Dr. Colt Riley about a simple way to catch the disease early.

"We do an oral cancer screen at each oral hygiene appointments.  It's very important to look at these at least once a year.  It's a blue fluorescent light, and we look at it under a yellow filter.  It's real simple - a patient just opens their mouth, and sticks out their tongue.  The fluorescent light picks up all of the vasculature.  When there's a cancerous cell, it stimulates more blood flow and this fluorescent light helps us pick up on that better than with the naked eye.  We have pathologists we work with.  For something suspicious, we'll do a biopsy.  That would consist of either cutting a sample or aspirating it with a needle.  We send it to the UT Dental School, and they let us know what to do.  In two years, we've only had to send away two of them, so it's uncommon.  I'd recommend at least once a year getting oral check up, though," says Dr. Riley.

The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States are for 2016 are eye-opening.

They expect more than 48,000 people to get oral cancer and warn almost 10,000 will die from the disease. 

Their web site shows that this type of cancer is more than twice as common in men as in women.  It most commonly occurs on the tongue, tonsils, gums, floor of the mouth, lips, and salivary glands. 

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