VELscope Oral Cancer Screening System
Of the 23 reported cancers, oral cancer is the 13th most common, according to the Canadian Dental Association. Each year, doctors diagnose more cases of oral cancer than cervical or ovarian cancer. More deaths are attributed to oral cancer than melanoma or cervical cancer.
In almost all cases of oral cancer, early detection plays a major role in a patient's chances of survival. Early diagnosis and treatment can raise a patient's five-year survival rate by 80 to 90 percent.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Frequent use of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco)
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Genetics (a family history of oral cancer or any type of cancer)
- Excessive exposure to the sun at a young age
While men older than 50 have the greatest risk for oral cancer, there has been a recent increase in the number of women who contract it, due to a connection between oral cancer and the human papilloma virus (HPV-16).
How VELscope Works
The VELscope screening system employs a specialized white light source and viewing scope that make it easier for your doctor to examine the tissues inside your mouth. Normal tissues will glow a bright-green color; abnormal tissues appear much darker under the special light.
An abnormal screening does not always mean the patient has cancer. If your screening is abnormal, your doctor may schedule a second, later scan to see whether the dark spots disappear. An alternate option is a gentle, non-invasive brush biopsy to make sure it's not cancer.