Although we have not cured cancer, we have developed many ways to treat it, dramatically improving survival rates for most cancers. Unfortunately, oral cancer has not seen the same improvement as other forms of cancer. That’s partly because oral cancer is often not detected until later, making it harder to treat. Fortunately, we can help detect your cancer sooner suing a new screening technique called VELscope. VELscope uses a special light to illuminate cancers and precancers so they can be tested.
Why Get Oral Cancer Screening
As we mentioned above, the most important reason to get oral cancer screening is survival. If you get your oral cancer detected early, you have at least an 83% chance of survival (with very early detection, survival rate approaches 100%). Late detection of oral cancer drops the survival rate to only 50%.
Cancer screening can also help because the population of people with oral cancer is changing. In the past, most people who developed oral cancer had risk factors such as:
- Previous cancer diagnosis
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol use
- Compromised immune system
- Advanced age
But now more people are being diagnosed without any known risk factors. This includes people under the age of 40.
With this changing risk profile, it’s important for everyone to get themselves screened for cancer.
Benefits of VELscope
VELscope is a great choice for an oral cancer screening technology. You will be happy with this technology because it:
- Is painless and completely safe
- Requires no special rinses
- Is quick: less than two minutes
- Isn’t invasive: a small hand piece easily shines light throughout the mouth
- Is highly sensitive and specific, giving fewer false positives and negatives
These advantages make VELscope one of the most effective and least disruptive technologies available. There’s really no reason not to get screening with VELscope, and it’s easy to add into your next routine checkup.
How VELscope Works
As we mentioned above, VELscope uses a special light to look for cancerous and precancerous tissue. Under normal light, cancerous tissue can blend in with healthy tissue. It’s very hard to distinguish. But if you change the light, the two types of tissue respond differently. VELscope uses a light that makes healthy tissue glow bright green. Cancerous and precancerous tissue doesn’t glow. This allows us to see suspicious areas that should be investigated further.
This is not a diagnosis of cancer, it’s a potentially cancerous region. You will have to have a biopsy–a small tissue sample–to confirm or deny cancer. We will either perform the biopsy or refer you to an oral surgeon.
If you are looking for a comprehensive dentist who can screen you for cancer during your routine checkup, please call 940-322-2252 or contact us today for an appointment with a Wichita Falls, TX dentist at StarImage Dentistry.