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SFSC’s Dental Hygiene program will hold oral cancer screenings on Thursday, Oct. 19, 3:30 – 6 p.m., in Building T, SFSC Highlands Campus, Avon Park. The screening is by appointment only, is open to the public, and is free.
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. When needed, the visual exam is followed by a VELscope examination in which a florescent light is shown into the mouth and helps to detect abnormal cells that are not visible to the naked eye.
“Even people who wear dentures should have an oral cancer screening every year,” said Dr. Deborah Milliken, department chair, Dental Education. “Dental hygienists and dental assistants tend to be community-minded individuals, and oral cancer screening is only one of the many ways they serve in their communities.”
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, advancing 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.
To make an appointment, call SFSC Dental Education at 863-784-7020.