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We're following up on yesterday's oral cancer awareness story with Dr. Fred Guerra with Guerra Dental in Colorado Springs.
Dr. Guerra says sometimes a thorough oral cancer screening might be taking place, without being explained to you.
Here are the steps he follows when screening his patients for oral cancers.
“Generally I would ask my patients at the start of the exam if they are aware of any lumps, bumps, sores, or alterations in any of the anatomy happening that they are concerned about. I like to start outside the mouth, by palpating all the lymph nodes in the neck area, and visually inspecting the tissue and the skin. Then we proceed intraorally and have them stick out their tongue and inspect the base of it. That is one of the most common areas for squamous cell carcinoma, which is one of the most common oral cancers. We are checking the soft palate, the cheeks, and the borders of the cheeks.”
After feeling and looking for trouble spots Dr. Guerra is inside and outside of the mouth, he then uses a screening tool, called a VELscope. A VELscope can reveal trouble spots in a different light, explains Dr. Guerra. “The difference for me using the VELscope is we may go through the complete head and neck examination everything looks fine but when we proceed with the VELscope we turn the lights out in the room, so we really get a good picture of those tissues in there and if the tissue fluoresces to give us something that's questionable, it may look dark, or even black, and we really want to focus in on that.”
Dr. Guerra also says a dentist won't diagnose you with oral cancer, but he can raise to first alarm to trouble signs in your mouth and refer you to your doctor for a biopsy.
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