What is VELscope?
VELscope is used help detect oral abnormalities before they are visible to the naked eye, which is critical in the fight against oral cancer.
The VELscope handheld device emits a harmless, bright blue light to inspect the mouth and tongue. The device detects abnormal tissue changes, and the distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissue (oral mucosa) of the mouth to fluoresce naturally.
Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinct patterns that can be visibly disrupted when tissue undergoes an abnormal change (which can occur in the oral mucosa for a variety of reasons), such as when associated with dysplasia or oral cancer.
We supplement the comprehensive oral exam ("COE," also known as a head and neck exam) with the VELscope device. This enhanced examination increases the chances that all suspicious areas will be identified and investigated in order to develop an appropriate diagnostic or treatment protocol and rule out serious diseases, such as dysplasia or cancer.
FAQs About VELscope
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from our patients about the VELscope Enhanced Oral Assessment.
What is oral cancer?
Oral and oropharyngeal cancers are cancers that develop in the mouth, lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, hard palate, tonsils, and throat.
Oral or oropharyngeal cancers are frequently not diagnosed until they have spread to lymph nodes or metastasized to a distant part of the body, limiting treatment options and the chances of complete recovery.
Why is early diagnosis of cancerous growths important?
Early diagnosis of cancerous growths is important because when cancer is still in its earlier stages, it can be easier to treat successfully. In addition, early diagnosis can help people plan ahead and make longer-term decisions about their care.
Because VELscope aids in the early detection of cancer, it can potentially save lives through less invasive, more effective treatment. When used regularly, VELscope assists dental professionals in detecting a wide range of soft-tissue abnormalities, allowing them to treat these oral health issues as they arise.
What are some oral cancer risk factors?
While cancer is a disease that can strike anyone at any time, some risk factors for oral cancer, specifically, can include:
- Tobacco Use
- Human Papillomavirus
- Gender (men are typically more prone to oral cancers than women)
- Being Overweight
- Age (usually in people over 50)
- UV Light
How can oral cancer be caught early using VELscope?
Oral cancer screenings should be quick, painless exams performed by dentists to detect early or existing signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in the mouth. These screenings can be done during regular dentist visits.
VELscope inspects the tissues inside the mouth with a blue light source and a viewing scope. Healthy tissues are bright green, whereas abnormal or precancerous tissues are darker.
An abnormal screening, however, does not always indicate cancer. A second scan may be scheduled to see if the same abnormalities appear again. A brush biopsy may be performed as well to ensure that the dark spots are not cancerous or precancerous.
How often should a VEscope exam be done?
Generally, a head, neck, and soft tissue examination should be completed every six months at your regular hygiene appointments.
Is VELscope a diagnostic tool?
Yes, it is. In fact, VELscope is one of the most useful tools for the systemic detection of oral abnormalities.
One of the most difficult aspects of early oral cancer diagnosis is that the symptoms are similar to those of less serious oral problems. This is why it is critical to employ the VELscope's fluorescent visualization technology.