Earlier detection of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and oral potentially malignant disorders (OPMD) is essential for dental professionals to improve patient survival rates. The aim is to inform the patients about possibilities of early cancer diagnosis that is fast and pain free.

According to the American Cancer Society and webmd.com, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk. Risk factors for the development of oral cancer include: smoking (cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers), excessive consumption of alcohol, family history of cancer, human papillomavirus (HPV) - certain HPV strains are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC)

It is important to note that over 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally.

The overall 1-year survival rate for patients with all stages of oral cavity and pharynx cancers is 81%. The 5- and 10-year survival rates are 56% and 41%, respectively. That’s why it’s important to detect and treat cancer in early stage. For that purpose dentist, beside traditional intra and extraoral head and neck exam, which relies heavily on clinical expertise in recognizing early neoplastic changes, use adjunctive devices such as the VELscope® Vx system.

The benefits of this system is that unlike other adjunctive devices used for oral examinations, the VELscope® Vx does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. VELscope® exam can be performed in the dentist's office during a routine hygiene exam in about two minutes, which is changing the way oral mucosal examinations take place. The VELscope®Vx handheld device emits a harmless, bright blue light which is used to inspect the mouth and tongue. The device is sensitive to abnormal tissue changes and the distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissue (oral mucosa) of the mouth to naturally fluoresce. Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinct patterns that may be visibly disrupted when tissue undergoes an abnormal change (which can occur in the oral mucosa for a multitude of reasons,) such as when associated with dysplasia or oral cancer. In practice that means that healthy tissue, under the blue light that the device emits, looks green, while the abnormal mucosa doesn’t show any change (remains darker). The process for patient is pretty simple. You will be provided with orange glasses, which prevents eye damage caused by blue light, and just sit still during scanning.

The VELscope not only can detect the early stages of cancer in tissue, it can also detect: viral, fungal and bacterial infections, inflammation, squamous papillomas, or salivary gland tumors. By using our VELscope during your check-ups, your dentist can detect, monitor, and document any abnormalities found in the oral cavity. This information is crucial during biopsy and treatment of these lesions.

Early detection of neoplastic changes in the oral cavity is the best method to improve patient survival rates. Don’t be afraid of oral cancer screening – it’s fast and pain free and can help you in early diagnosis or prevention of oral cancer.