VELscope Oral Cancer Screening System
More than 480,000 new cases of oral and throat cancers are diagnosed each year, and at least 35,000 of those are right here in the United States. Oral cancer kills one person every hour in the U.S., and without proper detection methods, a person may have oral cancer and not even know it.
In almost all cases of oral cancer, early detection plays a major role in a patient’s chances of survival. By diagnosing and treating oral cancer early, a patient’s five-year survival rate is 80 to 90% greater.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Frequent use of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco)
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Genetics (a family history of oral cancer or any type of cancer)
- Excessive exposure to the sun at a young age
Though men above the age of 50 are typically at the greatest risk for oral cancer, there has been a recent increase in the number of women diagnosed with it, due to a connection between oral cancer and the human papilloma virus (HPV-16).
How VELscope works
The VELscope screening system consists of a specialized white light source and viewing scope that make it easier for a doctor to look closely at the tissues inside your mouth. Normal tissues will almost glow a bright green color. Abnormal tissue shows up much darker under the special light.
An abnormal screening does not necessarily mean the patient has cancer. If an abnormal screening occurs, we may schedule a second scan later to see if the dark spots disappear, or choose to perform a gentle, non-invasive brush biopsy to make sure it’s not cancer.