The VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System centers on a handheld scope that is used by dentists to screen for oral tissue abnormalities, including cancer.
Unlike other adjunctive devices used for oral screening, the VELscope® Vx does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. In fact, a VELscope® Vx exam can be performed in the dentist's office during a routine hygiene exam (and under normal lighting conditions) in about two minutes.
VELscope® Vx technology is changing the way oral cancer screenings take place. The VELscope® Vx handheld device emits a harmless, bright blue light which is used to inspect the mouth and tongue. The device is extremely sensitive to abnormal tissue changes and the distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce. Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinct patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease, such as neoplastic lesions, and fungal, viral or bacterial infections.
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Dentists use the VELscope® Vx device to supplement the traditional intra and extra oral head and neck exam (called the comprehensive oral exam or "COE"), and they are rapidly embracing the use of this device to help identify potential cancerous or pre-cancerous tissues that cannot be identified with the naked eye.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the high death rate associated with oral cancer (52% mortality within five years) is due to the cancer being routinely discovered by dentists late in its development when it has already metastasized to other parts of the body. Adding an adjunctive device to the normal head and neck examination protocol allows the added benefit of seeing what the unaided eyes cannot. Exams are more thorough and any suspicions can be quickly investigated for confirmation of oral disease.
The VELscope device is an imaging modality which is extremely sensitive to tissue changes. Its use in everyday practice can provide timely information to dentists and hygienists to enable earlier detection of abnormal tissues and provide better outcomes for patients.
The statistics are highly favourable: when discovered early the 5-year survival rate for oral cancer patients is about 83%. Unfortunately, most cases of oral cancer are discovered in late stages, when the five-year survival rate drops to around 50 percent.
New research confirms that the risk factors for oral cancer have been expanded to include the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16), in addition to tobacco use, frequent and/or excessive alcohol consumption, a compromised immune system, and past history of cancer. This changing demographic presents an unprecedented call to action for oral cancer awareness and regular screenings.
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