VELscope® is a handheld scope that is used by dentists to help visualize oral tissue abnormalities, including cancer and pre-cancer. Unlike other adjunctive devices used for oral examinations, the VELscope® does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. In fact, a VELscope® exam can be performed during a routine hygiene exam in about two minutes.
How does VELscope® work?
The VELscope® handheld device emits a harmless, bright blue light which is used to inspect the mouth and tongue for signs of oral cancer. 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.
Why is early detection important?
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. 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.
As your general dental office in Sacramento, we like to offer all of our patients the VELscope® oral cancer screenings as a complimentary service.