Although not discussed as commonly as other types of cancer in the media, oral cancers can severely impact a patient’s quality of life. Intensive treatments, while useful, can affect a person’s ability to speak, chew, and talk, as well as their oral health in general. We still rely on traditional exams to reveal changes in the oral tissues that may be indicative of oral cancers. However, new technologies that may improve diagnosis and outcomes of oral cancer are on the horizon.
One such advancement is in the field of fluorescence visualization or light-based technology, which uses a blue light in the 400–460 nm range to stimulate epithelial cells to screen for changes in those cells. VELscope is a particular type of light-based tech that does not require a pre-rinse like some other technologies. VELscope doesn’t just detect cancer. It reveals cellular changes that might not otherwise be visible to a dentist or medical professional. This may include oral cancers in their early stages.
VELscope should be used in conjunction with the traditional oral exam to diagnose oral cancer or other issues. Adding VELscope technology to a regular examination requires only a few extra minutes, and some providers may not charge extra for this service. If lesions or other cell changes are identified, a scalpel biopsy can determine if cells are cancerous, and treatment can be prescribed from there.
Early detection is as important to oral cancer as any other type of cancer. Discovering cancer early can boost the 5-year survival rate of patients to 83%. The longer it takes for discovery and diagnosis, the lower the odds are that the patient will survive oral cancer. Unfortunately, most cases of oral cancer are diagnoses in the late stages, making the ability to spot cellular changes thanks to VELscope especially crucial.
Technologies such as VELscope may become even more significant as oral cancer and other disease become more prevalent.
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