VELscope examination. The clinician shines the blue excitation light into the patient’s mouth and looks through the Handpiece.
VELscope Dental Examination – Seattle
VELscope – In addition to our conventional oral cancer examination, our Seattle practice also provides the state-of-art VELscope screening as part of your hygiene appointment. This safe blue light fluoresces your oral tissues enhancing our ability to identify suspicious areas. Oral cancer is now linked to HPV and has 3 times as many victims as cervical cancer.
Every hour of every day in America someone dies of Oral Cancer. Oral Cancer is the sixth most common diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. Presently 30,000 patients are diagnosed annually with oral cancer. Mortality rates associated with oral cancer have remained unchanged for over 30 years, partly due to the limitations of white light examination of the oral mucosa. This has created a dire need for an improved oral mucosal screening procedure that would make it possible for clinicians to accurately identify tissue changes at and below the surface before they become apparent under white light examination.
In response to such a need, the Vancouver-based company LED Medical Diagnostics Inc. has developed the VELscope System in partnership with the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Much of the clinical research with the VELscope was conducted at the University of Washington’s Oral Dysplasia Clinic. It is a technology platform based on the direct visualization of human tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occur when abnormal tissue is present.
Illustration of VELscope’s principle of operation.
The 5-year survival rate is only 50%, accounting for 8,000 deaths each year. Oral Cancer risk factors include tobacco use, frequent and/or excessive alcohol consumption, a compromised immune system, past history of cancer, and the presence of the HPV virus. Tobacco use in all its forms is the number one risk factor. At least 75% of those diagnosed are tobacco users. When you combine tobacco with the use of alcohol, your risk is significantly increased, as the two act synergistically. Those who both smoke and drink, have a 15 times greater risk of developing oral cancer than others. Recently however, 25% of all newly diagnosed cases have been in patients under the age of forty with none of the known risk factors. The high mortality rate is directly related to the lack of early detection of potentially malignant lesions. When diagnosis and treatment are performed at or before a Stage I carcinoma level, the survival rate is more than 90%.
We can make a difference in the oral cancer mortality rate. An oral cancer examination with VELscope screening takes very little time, involves no pain or inconvenience, and is very affordable. Let’s plan to make this part of your next hygiene appointment.
Representative examples of direct visualization under both white light and VELscope examination – photos courtesy of the British Columbia Oral Cancer Prevention Program.
No apparent lesion
Normal fluorescence pattern
Irregular, dark area visible under fluorescence visualization. Biopsy-confirmed severe dysplasia
No apparent lesion
Irregular, dark area visible under fluorescence visualization. Biopsy-confirmed Carcinoma in Situ (CIS)