We are now offering VELscope, a ground breaking new technology showing promise in detecting oral cancers at an early stage. VELscope was developed by the BC Cancer Agency as a simple hand held device that is non-invasive. VELscope uses a bright blue light to highlight any changes in your mouth that a dentist could not see with the naked eye. During your dental examination we will shine this light over your tongue, cheeks, and lips. Healthy tissue will fluoresce or glow, while unhealthy tissue will absorb the light and show as a dark shadow. The blue light of the VELscope defines the borders of a cancerous lesion that would otherwise be invisible. If a suspicious lesion is detected, a referral to a dental or medical specialist can be made and a biopsy can be taken, or the area can be closely monitored. The goal is to detect these changes early. If it’s caught early, oral cancer has an eighty percent survival rate. Risk factors for oral cancers include smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol abuse, and a history of other cancers.
What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer? In the early stages there are no signs because there’s no discomfort or any obvious changes. The symptoms of oral cancer that you want to inform us about include:
A mouth sore that doesn’t heal or bleeds easily.
A persistent white or red patch in the mouth.
Lumps or thickening of the mouth, throat, or tongue.
Difficulty with chewing or swallowing.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States alone. This cancer, found in the mouth, lips or throat, is often highly curable if diagnosed and treated early. The experts agree that early diagnosis pushes the five-year survival rate to an astonishing 80 percent. Unfortunately, in its early stages, oral cancer can go unnoticed.
Dr. Kenneth Magid, a professor at New York University College of Dentistry, states on the Oral Cancer Foundation website “The problem, for the most part, is that early oral cancer looks like everything else. It looks like a million other injuries and changes in the tissue in the mouth. It’s a red spot or a white spot. We see them all the time.” But using the VELscope to detect oral cancer can make abnormalities stand out like a sore thumb.
At Glenbrook Dental, we are providing VELscope screening with each annual exam at no additional cost to our patients. In addition, the VELscope screening only takes one to two minutes.
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