Dr. Helaine Smith Offers Test To Aid Early Detection Of Oral Cancer
According to the American Dental Association, oral cancer strikes over 34,000 Americans annually, with over 25% dying of the disease, which claims more lives than melanoma and cervical cancer. The death rate for this cancer is relatively high due to the fact that the disease is not detected early enough.
Additionally, research has indicated a link between the human papilloma virus (HPV) and oral cancer. Researchers at John Hopkins compared patients who had oral cancer with those who did not. The study revealed that those patients who had one to five oral sex partners doubled their risk for throat cancer and those with more than five increased their risk by 250% -- and even more worrisome, increased their risk for the HPV-16 strain of virus by 750%. Over 70% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV Types 16 and 18.
"Many people are unaware of the importance of regular screening for oral cancer, and young people especially may not realize that they could be at risk for a cancer that historically has affected older men and smokers," says Dr. Smith. "As a dentist, I am their first line of defense against this disease. People don't usually think of dentists as potential life-savers, but when it comes to oral cancer, we are. I highly recommend that all sexually active people have this test done."
Dr. Smith also recommends that pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant also be tested for oral cancer - especially if they have or have had multiple partners.
ViziLite Plus, which is FDA approved, is a chemiluminescent light source that helps dentists detect potentially cancerous lesions. It is used in conjunction with a blue phenothiazine dye to mark the lesions.
In November 2007, the ADA launched a three-year campaign to boost public understanding of oral cancer and the role dentists play in early detection. Throat cancer is successfully treated in 90% of cases when detected early.
About Dr. Helaine Smith
Dr. Smith, a Boston, Massachusetts cosmetic dentist, has combined a dedication to patient care, volunteerism, and business acumen since beginning her dentistry career in 1991. She is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry and a Las Vegas Institute graduate, and she recently completed an executive MBA program at Suffolk University.
In May 2006, Dr. Smith's practice was named first runner-up in the prestigious Cosmetic Practice of the Year Award competition, sponsored by Levin Group, Ascend Media, and Philips Oral Healthcare.