Velscope Oral Cancer Exam
Approximately 36,540 Americans were diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx in 2010. During the same time period 7,880 Americans passed away due to untreated or delayed diagnosis of oral cancer. This is the reason why Drs. Ressler, Hirschl & Lelchuk strongly advise their patients to have a yearly physical examination of the neck and oropharynx (the middle section of the throat that includes the soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils). A thorough oral, head and neck cancer examination can easily be completed in less than 5 minutes. It primarily consists of inspection and palpation.
Also, Drs. Ressler, Hirschl & Lelchuk have included the Velscope examination in their routine check up.
The VELscope is the first adjunctive device cleared by the FDA and Health Canada to help clinicians detect cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions and other lesions that might not be apparent to the naked eye. In less than 3 minutes, with no rinses, dyes or discomfort, a VELscope examination helps healthcare professionals assure their patients that their oral mucosa has been assessed to an advanced level of preventative care.
The VELscope’s blue light “excites” molecules (called “fluorophores”) deep within the layers of oral mucosal tissues. In turn, those fluorophores emit their own light (fluorescence), in shades of green, yellow and red. The VELscope’s proprietary filter makes fluorescence visualization possible, by blocking reflected blue light, and by enhancing the contrast between normal and abnormal tissue.
Like other visualization technologies, such as panoramic radiograph, CT, MRI, PET and ultrasound, the VELscope is NOT a stand-alone diagnostic test. However, used in conjunction with the standard oral soft tissue exam, VELscope provides visual information that cannot be acquired in any other way.
As an adjunctive visualization tool, the VELscope helps dental professionals discover a wide range of unhealthy tissue in the mouth, including oral pre-cancer and cancer.
The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following are common signs of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
- A sore that fails to heal, and bleeds easily.
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology and, curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer. We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly.
Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help.