The incidence of Oral Cancer continues to rise in the USA. The American Cancer Society indicates that in 2007, they expect a remarkable 11% increase in this deadly disease. Alarmingly, 25 % of the new oral cancer cases are people that do not have any of the traditional life style risk factors, such as age and tobacco and alcohol use.
Traditionally, dentists and hygienists have done oral cancer screening with the naked eye, but recently a new technology, the VELscope has received FDA approval. The VELscope (for Visually Enhanced Lesion scope) will help us pinpoint and identify suspicious tissue at earlier stages before they may become life threatening concerns.
VELscope, similar to other early detection procedures like colonoscopy, mammography, PAP smear and PSA exam, is a painless, non invasive blue light that is shined into the patient’s mouth. The images are viewed through the back of the VELscope handpiece and the hygienist or dentist may find tissue abnormalities at an earlier stage. Before the exam, the room is darkened and much like “dessert storm night vision technology” the clinician can see changes in tissue that may not be visible to the eye. These detected changes can range from something minor to something of greater concern that may require further examination and follow up.