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. 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. Recently however 25% of all newly diagnosed cases have been in patients under the age of forty with none of the known risk factors. Oral Cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved in the past 50 years. This is due primarily to the fact that during this time we have not changed the way we screen for this disease (a visual and manual examination of the oral cavity, head, and neck).
Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas (OSCC) make up over 90% of all oral cancers, and because of its appearance it has been difficult to differentiate from the other relatively benign lesions of the oral cavity. Early OSCC and potentially malignant lesions can appear as a white patch (leukoplakia, or as a reddened area (erythroplakia), or as a red and white (erythroleukoplakia) mucosal change under standard white light examination. However, these cellular changes are often non-detectable to the human eye (even with magnification eyewear) under standard lighting conditions. Often, when the lesion becomes visible, it has advanced to invasive stages. 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 1 carcinoma level, the survival rate is more than 90%.
The cancers which have seen a major decline in the mortality rate have included colon, cervical, and prostate cancer and the primary reason is early detection and screening.
We can make a difference in the oral cancer mortality rate.
Early screening, diagnosis, and treatment planning saves lives.
How Does it work?
VELscope’s fluorescence technology aids in the early visualization of mucosal diseases and enhances effective oral mucosal screening
VELscope® is a revolutionary hand-held device that provides dentists and hygienists with an easy-to-use adjunctive mucosal examination system for the early detection of abnormal tissue. The patented VELscope technology platform was developed in collaboration with the British Columbia Cancer Agency and MD Anderson Cancer Center, with funding provided in part by the NIH. It is based on the direct visualization of tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occur when abnormalities are present.
The VELscope Handpiece emits a safe blue light into the oral cavity, which excites the tissue from the surface of the epithelium through to the basement membrane (where premalignant changes typically start) and into the stroma beneath, causing it to fluoresce. The clinician is then able to immediately view the different fluorescence responses to help differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue. In fact, VELscope is the only non-invasive adjunctive device clinically proven to help discover occult oral disease.
Typically, healthy tissue appears as a bright apple-green glow while suspicious regions are identified by a loss of fluorescence, which thus appear dark.
VELscope provides a more effective oral cancer screening protocol with immediate benefits for the patient, clinician and practice
When used as an adjunctive aid in combination with traditional oral cancer examination procedures, VELscope facilitates the early discovery and visualization of mucosal abnormalities prior to surface exposure that may be, or may lead to oral cancer. In one or two minutes, with no rinses or stains required, a VELscope examination helps oral healthcare professionals assure their patients that the standard of care for oral mucosal screening has been utilized. Through the CDT code D0431, an increasing number of insurance companies are recognizing VELscope as an adjunctive screening device. VELscope combines minimal per-patient costs with more effective screening.