Oral Cancer Screening & HPV Testing

What is Oral Cancer?

This year over 52,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. That is a little over 142 new cases EACH DAY in the US.

There are two known pathways leading to oral cancer. This first is tobacco and alcohol use. The other is through exposure to HPV (Human Papillomavirus – HPV16). When oral cancer is detected early, survival rates are good (80-90%). Unfortunately, most oral cancers are not detected until a late stage, which is why the death rate from oral cancer is high (45% five years after diagnosis). In the US, oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day; this is why we believe taking an oral cancer screening test is vital to helping maintain your oral health.

Every time you have a cleaning and check-up at Westlake Smile Studio, our dentists and hygienists will do a visual oral cancer screening for you. We also strongly recommend an additional screening with VELscope once per year. These oral cancer screenings have the ability to detect early stages of oral cancer before a lesion is visible to our eyes.

Furthermore, if you have a lump, bump, crack, ulcer, spot or other area of concern in/on your mouth, lips, tongue, palate, gums, cheek, or throat, we ask that you call us immediately so that we can see you for an additional exam.

HPV Testing

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common virus groups in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 20 million people in the United States are infected with HPV and there are approximately 6 million new cases each year. Oral HPV is a manifestation of the HPV virus in the mouth, and is primarily found in the oropharyngeal complex. Specific types of oral HPV are now considered to be a separate and serious risk factor for developing oral cancers.

Early detection and identification of the presence or absence of oral HPV is important, as early oral HPV infections do not typically cause any clinical signs or symptoms. The OraRisk® Oral HPV test is a non-invasive, easy-to-use screening tool to identify the type(s) of oral HPV, a mucosal viral infection that could potentially lead to oral cancer. OraRisk® HPV testing enables the clinician to establish increased risk for oral cancer and determine appropriate referral and monitoring conditions.

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