Three people a day die from oral cancer in Canada!
Late detection of oral cancer is the primary reason that mortality rates are so dismal. As with most other cancers, age is is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Though tobacco use is a major predisposing risk factor, 25% of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors.
Our practice continually strives to provide important enhancements in oral health care. We are concerned about oral cancer and look for it in all “at risk” patients. We have a screening tool that allows us to detect oral cancer earlier than ever before! This system allows the Dentist or Hygienist to visualize and identify oral mucosal abnormalities that may have otherwise been missed during a conventional oral cancer examination. It is the only medical device that the FDA has cleared for the identification of oral abnormalities in patients with an increased risk for oral cancer.
Increased Risk: Patients age 18-39 with no lifestyle risk factors
High Risk: Patients age 40 and older with no lifestyle risk factors OR Patients age 18-39 with lifestyle risk factors.
Highest Risk: Patients age 65 and older with lifestyle risk factors or patients with a history of oral cancer.
Lifestyle risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Tobacco use (any type, any age, within 10 years)
- Alcohol consumption of at least 1 drink per day
- Immune deficiencies such as HIV & AIDS
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV 16/18)
How VELscope Oral Cancer Screening Works
As with most serious diseases, early detection is the key to successful outcomes. Unfortunately, the problem with oral cancer is that approximately 70% of the time it is not visible to us until it has reached an advanced stage. VELscope technology assists us in seeing abnormal tissue in the mouth, before it is plainly obvious. VELscope uses natural tissue fluorescence to discover abnormalities. It is an extremely effective aid for discovering and defining the extent of a wide range of abnormalities, including oral cancer.
- takes less than five minutes to complete
- completely non-invasive – there is no rinse or dye necessary
- photo documentation
The purpose of using VELscope is to identify tissue changes at their earliest stage; once abnormal tissue has been identified it is up to your dental professional to determine what the appropriate next steps are.
What is the cost?
VELscope is $39. Oral cancer screenings are not currently covered by Dental Insurance in Ontario, but progress is being made. We are hopeful that in the near future, the importance of screenings will result in full coverage.