Cancer is a word no one likes, especially when talking about a type of cancer few people think about but that thousands of Americans are diagnosed with each year - that is, oral cancer. If caught early, oral cancer affecting the tongue, gums, cheeks, back of the throat and other structures in the mouth, can be affectively treated. The National Institutes on Health (NIH) state that cure rates at Stage 1 are almost 90 percent. Left undiagnosed and untreated, however, oral cancer kills almost 50 percent of its victims.
Oral cancer screening with VELscope
One of the best defenses against oral cancer is routine screening by an experienced family dentist. Early cancer detection allows for better treatment options for more positive outcomes.
Aside from a visual inspection of the oral cavity, some dentists now offer a technologically advanced way to look for cancers. It is called the VELscope Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System. A wireless light handheld by a dental professional, the FDA-approved VELscope detects the natural fluorescence of the inside of the mouth to determine which oral structures are normal and which are potential problems.
In addition to pinpointing lesions such as salivary gland tumors, squamous papillomas and other cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions, the VELscope can show:
- inflammation from old-style amalgam fillings
- infections due to viruses, fungi and bacteria
- other concerning changes in the oral mucosa which may warrant further attention
The VELscope light is bright and stimulates the normal fluorescence of the mouth. If areas examined by the light do not appear bright green, but are instead dark, they are considered suspicious. The dentist can more easily see where the margins of a sore or lesion begin and end. Furthermore, the VELscope can take photographs inside the mouth to document how it currently looks. Retaining those photos gives the health care provider a point of comparison for future examinations.
What happens during a VELscope examination
The procedure is simple, painless and takes only a few minutes. The patient swishes a rinse around in their mouth, and their eyes are protected with special lenses. When the VELscope light is shone inside the oral cavity, anything which is abnormal appears darker than the normal tissue. The dentist might take a sample of the questionable area for biopsy and decisions on treatment. It is recommended that every adult get a VELscope screening for oral cancer annually, especially if they:
- drink alcohol to excess
- have been exposed to the human papilloma virus (HPV)
- have immune system deficiencies from cancer or other serious health issues
William Ralstin DDS performs both traditional oral cancer screening and uses the VELscope Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System. Along with the latest in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, Dr. Ralstin places a high premium on preventative dental care. Call his Fort Worth, Texas area office today at 817-926-8700 to set up an appointment for the best in dental care.