Oral Cancer Screening

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Oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases when it’s caught early. That’s why the VELscope Plus exam has been developed. VELscope Plus uses technology that has proven successful in identifying soft tissue abnormalities in other areas of the body.

VELscope: an important part of a comprehensive dental exam.

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Oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases when it’s caught early. That’s why the VELscope exam has been developed. VELscope uses technology that has proven successful in identifying soft tissue abnormalities in the mouth. The VELscope exam can help your dentist or hygienist identify abnormal tissue, that might develop into oral cancer.

An annual VELscope exam, in combination with a regular dental exam, provides a comprehensive oral screening procedure for our patients. The VELscope exam is painless and fast, and could help save your life!

The VELscope is the most powerful tool available for assisting in the discovery of oral abnormalities. The VELscope’s distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce. Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinctive patterns — patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease. Using the VELscope, a wide variety of oral abnormalities can be discovered — often before they’re visible to the unassisted eye.

Discovering soft tissue abnormalities is particularly important in the fight against oral cancer. Because the VELscope assists in early detection, cancer can be caught before it has time to spread, potentially saving lives through less invasive, more effective treatment.
Used on a regular basis, the VELscope helps dental professionals find a wide variety of soft-tissue abnormalities, allowing practices to aspire to an advanced level of patient care.

The VELscope is:

  • completely safe
  • simple to use
  • no unpleasant rinses or stains
  • entire exam in about two minutes.

Occasionally, the VELscope system plays a crucial role in saving lives.

How Does the VELscope Work?

As with most serious diseases, early detection is the key to successful outcomes. Unfortunately, the problem with oral cancer is that approximately 70% of the time it is not visible to the dental professional until it has reached an advanced stage. The VELscope assists us in seeing abnormal tissue in the mouth, before it is plainly obvious.

As the fluorescent light from the VELscope passes over oral tissues, abnormal tissue typically appears as an irregular, dark area that stands out against the otherwise normal, green fluorescence pattern of surrounding healthy tissue.  The purpose of using the VELscope is to identify tissue changes at their earliest stage; once abnormal tissue has been identified it is up to us to determine the appropriate next steps.

What If We Find Something?

In most cases, the VELscope exam will indicate that there is nothing to worry about. However, it is possible that some suspicious areas could be seen. Sometimes it can be that the suspicious-looking area is of little or no concern, such as if it is caused by chewing the inside of your cheek or by irritation from dentures or braces. If necessary, we may ask you to come back in a few weeks so that we may take another look. If the area has improved in the meantime, we’ll know that oral cancer was not involved. If the area has not improved, we will recommend further exams, which may include a biopsy that can be evaluated by an oral pathologist. In the unlikely event that the biopsy reveals cancerous or pre-cancerous tissues, you will be referred for appropriate treatment. Fortunately, the survival rate for oral cancer discovered at early stages is extremely high. That is why it is so important that you have an oral cancer screening once a year, or twice a year if you smoke or chew tobacco.

About Oral Cancer

Most people are surprised to learn that one American dies every hour from oral cancer; a death rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 40 years. In fact, recent statistics published by the American Cancer Society indicate that while the incidence and death rates for cancers overall has decreased, the incidence of oral cancer has increased by 5.5% and the death rate has increased by 1.5%.

Oral cancer is far too often discovered in late stage development, the primary reason for the consistently high death rate. Oral cancer treatment often results in disfiguring effects on patients, and can seriously compromise their quality of life. Early detection and diagnosis can make a tremendous difference in life expectancy; oral cancer is 90% curable when found in its early stages. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, III and IV, leading to a five-year survival rate of 57%.

The Deadly Statistics

  • Every hour of every day, one American dies of oral cancer.
  • The mortality rate associated with oral cancer has not improved significantly in the last 40 years.
  • The death rate in the United States for oral cancer is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the brain, liver, testes, kidney, or ovary.
  • More than 30,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year. In five years, only 57% will still be alive.
  • 25% of oral cancer victims do not use tobacco or alcohol and have no other lifestyle risk factors.

If your smile is not becoming to you,
You should be coming to us!