According to the Canadian Cancer Society, an estimated 4,700 Canadians were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017. Survival varies with each stage of oral cancer. In general, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the higher the chances of surviving the condition.
For a long time, dentists heavily relied on visual examinations to identify signs of oral cancer. Most would use only their naked eyes to try and identify suspicious cells and growths. They would then conduct biopsies to determine if any cancer was developing.
However, this method has been proved to be very ineffective particularly in discovering oral cancer in its early stages. As a result, more advanced technologies such as the VELscope are now being recommended for quicker and more accurate testing.
What is VELscope?
A VELscope is a small, handheld wireless device that emits safe blue light fluorescence to spot any abnormalities and suspicious lesions in the mucous membranes of the lips, tongue, mouth, and upper throat. This tool uses a form of technology known as tissue fluorescence visualization which is based on the fact that healthy tissues (medically referred to as fluorophores) emit specific light shades. However, if the tissues are affected by trauma or a disease like oral cancer, they fluoresce in other colors to indicate underlying issues.
Considering that most pre-malignant changes caused by cancer start below the surface of the skin, it’s nearly impossible to identify them early enough when using naked eyes. Luckily, with an effective system like the VELscope, it’s easier to detect them fast and accurately.
How Does VELscope Technology Work?
The concept behind the working of a VELscope is that the blue light it emits is able to excite the molecules of oral tissues. In return, these molecules produce their own light which the VELscope uses to determine whether tissue development at the target area is normal or not.
The VELscope system comprises only a few parts including a source of the blue light, a light guide, and a viewing handpiece. The light it produces is radiation-free and therefore safe for use on anyone.
How Long Does This Procedure Take?
A VELscope exam takes just a few minutes – usually less than 5 minutes – to complete. It’s entirely non-invasive, doesn’t require use of dyes or rinses, and is pain-free. Besides, there are no known side effects of using this procedure.
However, as is the case with most visualization procedures like ultrasound and MRI, a dentist may choose to combine a VELscope exam with other tests such as a standard oral soft tissue exam. This can prolong the examination time.
When Do You Need a VELscope Exam?
Typically, it is recommended that you take a VELscope test at least once every year. This helps you to screen and possibly detect any developing cancer cells as early as possible.
However, you may consider increasing the number of tests if you’re predisposed to the following risk factors:
- Tobacco usage (both smoking and chewing)
- Poor diet
- HPV infection
- Excessive exposure to sun rays
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Besides, if any of the following symptoms persists, consider getting a VELscope test:
- Discoloration of the oral tissues
- Mouth sores that don’t go away
- Pain when swallowing
- A thickening or lump in your mouth or neck area
- Difficulty in moving your tongue or jaw
Book your VELscope Appointment
If you have any questions or are looking for the best dentist to conduct a VELscope exam in Milton, ON, please don’t hesitate to reach our practice at 905-864-3368. You can also book your appointment by contacting us through our email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to seeing you!