Oral cancer screening can now be a quick part of your dental visit. The VELscope is a handheld device that allows a dentist to check your mouth for oral cancer by emitting a harmless blue light that makes abnormalities become visible. It can help catch oral cancer in its early stages. Screening takes only a couple of minutes and no longer requires dyes or long testing procedures.

Traditionally, oral cancer screening was done by touching the face and neck, as well as by looking in the mouth with the naked eye. Research indicates that combining the VELscope with the conventional exam produces the highest chances of diagnosing oral cancer, with 62.5% more cancerous and pre-cancerous legions being detected when the VELscope was used along with the traditional exam.

In the past, oral cancer was usually detected in the later stages and therefore required invasive treatment. In order to avoid highly invasive treatment, early detection is key. The VELscope aids in diagnosing premalignant lesions so that they may be caught in the early stages and may require less invasive and less costly treatments with better long term results. Approximately 1,200 Canadians die every year from oral cancer. The death rate is so high because it is often not discovered until it has spread. With early detection and treatment, we can greatly reduce this number.

If any lesions are found during a patient’s routine examinations, a note will be made in their chart. This area is checked and monitored at each visit, and since all information is documented it is easy to spot if any irregularity occurs. It’s also then easy to share all of your oral history with a specialist if need be.

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