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Oral Cancer Screening

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2013, an estimated 82,760 new cases of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, causing approximately 15,800 deaths. It is one of the few types of cancer that has not seen a significant reduction in incidence over the past 30 years, and recent research has shown a strong association with human papilloma virus (HPV), which can be sexually transmitted. For this reason, it is recommended that all individuals over the age of 14, or anyone who is sexually active, should have at least an annual comprehensive oral cancer examination, and ideally at every dental hygiene visit.

Oral cancer is typically discovered in late stages, when the five-year survival rate is only 22%. However, if detected in the early stages the five-year survival rate is 80% or higher. A device called VELscope can help discover abnormal growths before they become cancerous, even below the surface.

“We have always conducted a comprehensive oral cancer screening for all of our patients, but now VELscope will help us see things that previously could not be seen by the naked eye. By detecting potential problems earlier, we will be providing our patients with the best health care currently available.”

The FDA cleared VELscope for assisting dentists and hygienists to screen for possible cancerous or precancerous growths that may not be apparent during routine visual examinations. A screening with VELscope adds only a few minutes to a conventional examination and gives dentists greater insight into the condition of the patient’s oral cavity. The process is completely free of any pain or discomfort.