Our practice continually looks for advances to ensure that we are providing the optimum level of oral health care to our patients. We are concerned about oral cancer and look for it in every patient.
One American dies every hour from oral cancer. Late detection of oral cancer is the primary cause that both the incidence and mortality rates of oral cancer continue to increase. As with most cancers, age is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Tobacco and alcohol use are other major predisposing risk factors. Surprisingly more than 25% of oral cancer victims have no such lifestyle risk factors.
Traditionally, dentists and hygienists have done oral cancer screening with the naked eye, but recently a new technology, the VELscope has received FDA approval. The VELscope (Visually Enhanced Lesion scope) will help us pinpoint and identify suspicious tissue at earlier stages before they may become life-threatening concerns.
VELscope, similar to other early detection procedures like colonoscopy, mammography, PAP smear and PSA exam, is a painless, non-invasive blue light that is shined into the patient’s mouth. The images are viewed through the back of the VELscope handpiece and the hygienist or dentist may find tissue abnormalities at an earlier stage, seeing changes in tissue that may not be visible to the eye. These detected changes can range from something minor to something of greater concern that may require further examination and follow up.