VELscope Oral Cancer Screening

Portrait of a family looking at the cameraOral cancer kills one person every hour in the United States, and without proper detection methods, a person may have oral cancer and be completely unaware. There were more than 480,000 new cases of oral and throat cancers diagnosed each year, and over 35,000 of those cases where right here in the United States. In almost all cases of oral cancer, early detection plays a vital role in a person’s chances of survival. When we diagnose and treat oral cancer early, a patient’s five year survival rate is 80 – 90% greater.

Risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • Frequent use of products containing tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco)
  • Consumption of alcohol excessively
  • A family history of oral cancer or any type of cancer
  • Over exposure to the sun at a young age

Men at age 50 are usually the most at risk for oral cancer however; there has been a recent rise in the number of women cases due to a connection between oral cancer and the human papilloma virus or HPV-16.

How VELscope Works

The VELscope system works with a specialized white light source and viewing scope that makes it easier for your doctor to examine the tissues inside your mouth closely. If normal tissues are present they will almost glow a bright green color. If abnormal tissues are present they will appear much darker under the light.

There are cases where an abnormal screening does not turn out to be oral cancer. If an abnormal screening does occur, your dentist will schedule a second scan later to check if the dark spots have disappeared, or he may choose to perform a non-invasive brush biopsy to make sure it’s not cancer.