According to research conducted by the American Cancer society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year. More than 7,000 of these cases result in the death of the patient. The good news is that oral cancer can be detected with an annual oral cancer exam, and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages.
It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. Many people believe that if they abstain from tobacco and alcohol use, oral cancer will not affect them; however, 25% of those diagnosed abstain from both substances. Your dentist can provide literature and education on making lifestyle changes and smoking cessation.
Oral cancer is a pathologic process which begins with an asymptomatic stage during which the usual cancer signs may not be readily noticeable. This makes the oral cancer examinations performed by the dentist critically important.
The FDA-approved VELscope® offers dentists another examination tool to help detect oral cancer in its earliest stages. The VELscope® is a blue excitation lamp, which highlights precancerous and cancerous cell changes.
How does the VELscope® work?
The VELscope® uses Fluorescence Visualization (FV) in an exciting new way. Essentially, bright blue light is shone into the mouth to expose changes and lesions that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. The VELscope® System affords the dentist important insight as to what is happening beneath the surface.
During bi-annual check-ups, the dentist and hygienist will thoroughly look for changes and lesions in the mouth, but a dedicated comprehensive oral cancer screening should be performed at least once each year.
Here are some of the advantages of using the VELscope® System:
- Can be combined with digital photography.
- Detects lesions, white and red patches.
- Detects problem areas that cannot be seen under white light.
- Exposes precancerous and cancerous tissue.
- Helps dentists check that diseased soft tissue is completely removed.
- Helps diagnose oral cancer in its earliest stages, exponentially increasing the chance of survival.
- Quick, painless examinations.
If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, please ask your dentist or dental hygienist.