SAN FRANCISCO AND SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA – San Rafael dentist Dr. Greg Larson is closely following a clinical trial for a test that could detect oral cancer in saliva.
Michigan State University surgeon Dr. Barry Wenig and Delta Dental of Michigan’s Research and Data Institute are gearing up for a clinical trial to test patients’ saliva for early detection of oral cancer.
The clinical trial will test between 100 and 120 patients who have white sores in their mouths or on their tonsils.
“These tests are as noninvasive as it gets,” Dr. Wenig says. “Patients simply need to spit into a cup.” The ease and speed of this test could save many lives threatened by oral cancer.
“Wenig and his team will be looking for certain biomarkers previously identified by researchers at UCLA,” MSU reports. “The biomarkers have been shown in studies to confirm the presence of oral cancer.”
Oral cancer is difficult to detect early. You may notice a small bump inside your mouth and decide to visit your dentist. Certain cancers don’t show signs until they advance. You may also confuse the symptoms of oral cancer with something less harmful, such as a toothache.
The American Cancer Society lists a few ways dentists currently detect oral cancer at early stages. Dentists spread toluidine blue dye in the mouth, and the dye will shade any abnormal areas blue. Another process shines a laser light into your mouth that reflects abnormal areas differently than normal areas. A third method involves the patient rinsing with acetic acid. Your dentist will then use a light to inspect your mouth for abnormalities that are visible from the acid.
If an abnormality is found, your dentist will then take a biopsy of the suspicious area. The development of a saliva test will alleviate the need for biopsies on each suspected case since many lesions are benign. This will allow patients to receive diagnoses faster and start treatment faster.
Dr. Larson and his team perform an oral cancer screening using manual manipulation of the lips and tongue to discover any hidden lesions. With each examination, a magnifying camera and light are used to scan the entire oral cavity for any abnormalities. Lesions in the throat and posterior areas that are not visible can be detected with the new tests. After five years of being diagnosed, the survival rate for oral cancer is between 50 and 60 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health. Oral cancer claims 30,000 new cases per year and Dr. Larson is interested in using the latest science to help combat that number.
At Larson Dentistry, you and your family will receive expert oral care at each visit. Your regular dental visits will include thorough cleanings, oral cancer screenings, X-rays, and examination of your teeth, mouth, gums and jaw as needed.
Dr. Larson also provides cosmetic services such as Invisalign Teen, porcelain veneers, teeth whitening and laser gum contouring. You can preview your future smile with Dr. Larson’s dental simulation software. Dr. Larson uses implant dentistry to replace missing teeth with implants matched perfectly to your existing tooth color. Contact our office today to schedule a routine appointment or to inquire about an abnormality in your mouth.
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