Dental exams are the most important means of detecting oral cancer. When you come in for your dental check-ups, not only are we checking your teeth, but we are also examining the entire oral cavity.
According to the CDC:
"Each year, more than 30,000 new cases of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx are diagnosed and over 8,000 deaths due to oral cancer occur. The 5-year survival rate for these cancers is only about 50 percent."
As dentists, it is our role to screen for any abnormalities in the oral cavity. However, once oral cancer becomes visible to the naked eye it is likely in its late stages. Our practice is now offering a new innovative tool for oral cancer screenings, which can detect oral cancer at its early stages. The VELscope is a painless, noninvasive fluorescent light that detects abnormalities in tissues. Not only can it detect the early stages of cancer in tissue, it can also detect:
- Viral, fungal and bacterial infections
- Squamous papillomas
- Salivary gland tumors
By using our VELscope during your check-ups, we can detect, monitor, and document any abnormalities found in the oral cavity. This information is crucial during biopsy and treatment of these lesions. We feel that it is important for us to use this accessory screening device in patients with risk factors of oral cancer. Common risk factors include:
- Tobacco and/or alcohol use
- Over 40 years of age
- Compromised immune system
- Prior history of cancer
If you meet two of these criteria, it is essential we use the VELscope to screen for oral cancer at your yearly check-ups. If you have any questions about the VELscope or the screening process, contact our office for more information.