SFSC Dental Hygiene Offers Free Oral Cancer Screenings
South Florida State College’s Dental Hygiene program will hold oral cancer screenings on Thursday, Oct. 25, 3-6 p.m., in Building T, SFSC Highlands Campus. The screening is by appointment only, is open to the public, and is free.
“We don’t hear much about oral cancer, and it is one of the top least detected cancers until it is in advanced stages,” said Dr. Deborah Milliken, department chair, Dental Education. “It is also common in rural areas because there is often less access to care in these locations.”
The screening is a simple process that only takes about 15-20 minutes. After a brief medical history, patients will undergo a head and neck evaluation, followed by a VELscope examination in which a fluorescent light is shown into the mouth and detects cells that are not visible to the naked eye.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation and Oral Cancer Consortium, oral cancer is more deadly than Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cervical, thyroid, and skin cancers, and kills one person every hour of the day, but when found early, oral cancer patients have a 90 percent survival rate.
Oral cancer risk factors include alcohol and tobacco use, age, sun exposure, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, and the human papilloma virus (HPV), which presents a five-times increase in occurrence in people under the age of 40.
“There has been a surge in diagnosis in people under the age of 40 who have never used tobacco products, and the HPV virus has been linked to these cases,” Dr. Milliken said. “It is recommended that all patients over the age of 17 be screened annually.”
To make an appointment, call SFSC Dental Education at 863-784-7020.