The VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System centers on a handheld scope that is used by dentists to help detect oral tissue abnormalities, including cancer.
The VELscope® Vx system is an adjunctive device which means it must be used together with and as a supplement to the traditional intra and extra oral head and neck exam. Unlike other adjunctive devices used for oral examinations, 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 in about two minutes.
VELscope® Vx technology is changing the way oral mucosal examinations 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 tissue (oral mucosa) 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 (also referred to as the comprehensive oral exam or "COE"), and they are rapidly embracing the use of this device to help detect abnormal oral tissue such as potential cancerous or pre-cancerous tissues that are not apparent or sometimes not even visible with the naked eye alone. Exams can be more thorough and any suspicious areas 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 help provide better outcomes for patients.
According to The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute, the statistics are highly suggestive: when discovered early (while the cancer is still localized) the 5-year survival rate for oral cancer patients is about 83%. Unfortunately, most cases of oral cancer are discovered in the later stages, after it has already spread either regionally to lymph nodes or metastasized to distant locations. The 5-year survival rate in these circumstances is grim, dropping to only 54%.
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 oral examinations.
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