At Total Care Dental, we rountinely screen for oral cancer. Oral cancer is the 6th most common cancer in adults with almost half a million new cases being diganosed every year. One person dies from oral cancer every hour. Oral cancer can be one of the easiest cancers to treat when caught in the early stages.
What is VELscope?
Once a year at all exams, Dr. Wollschlager will conduct an advanced oral cancer screening using the VELscope system. This is a screening tool that uses a high intensity LED light to look at tissue on a cellular level. This special light illuminates the deeper layers of oral tissues to reveal any actively replicating or duplicating cells. Normal tissue reflects the light, revealing a green color, while tissue of concern shows dark because the light penetrates the tissue rather than reflects.
When looking through the VELscope, we can see tissue changes years before we can see them in the mouth with the naked eye. If caught in the early stages, most forms of oral cancer have a high survival rate and require less invasive treatment.
What are some risk factors for developing oral cancer?
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Over 55 years old
- Males are more likely to develop oral cancer than women
- HPV+ patients
- Genetics, family history of oral cancer
- Repeated unprotected sun exposure
While the majority of oral cancer cases are related to higher risk factors, 25% of oral cancers are found in patients with no risk factors. This is why we sreen all patients, no matter if they are considered high risk or low risk.