Oral Cancer Examination
A New Way to Examine for Oral Disease
VELscope® Vx technology is changing the way oral mucosal examinations take place. The VELscope® Vx handheld device emits a harmless, bright blue light which is used to inspect the mouth and tongue. The device is sensitive to abnormal tissue changes and the distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissue (oral mucosa) of the mouth to naturally fluoresce. Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinct patterns that may be visibly disrupted when tissue undergoes an abnormal change (which can occur in the oral mucosa for a multitude of reasons,) such as when associated with dysplasia or oral cancer.
We use the VELscope® Vx device to supplement the traditional intra and extraoral head and neck exam (also referred to as the comprehensive oral exam or “COE”), and they are rapidly embracing the use of this device to help visualize abnormal oral tissue, such as potential cancerous or pre-cancerous tissues that are not apparent or sometimes not even visible with the naked eye alone. Exams can be more thorough and any suspicious areas can be quickly investigated for confirmation of oral disease.
Why Early Discovery Matters?
The statistics are highly suggestive: when discovered early the 5-year survival rate for oral cancer patients is about 83%. Unfortunately, most cases of oral cancer are discovered in late stages, when the five-year survival rate drops to around 50 percent.
The VELscope device is based on an imaging modality which is sensitive to tissue changes. Its use in everyday practice can provide timely information to dentists and hygienists to enable enhanced visualization of abnormal tissues, which is beneficial for patients.
New research confirms that the risk factors for oral cancer have been expanded to include the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16), in addition to tobacco use, frequent and/or excessive alcohol consumption, a compromised immune system, and past history of cancer. This changing demographic presents an unprecedented call to action for oral cancer awareness and regular screenings.