When dentists refer to the term “Oral Cancer”, they are including cancerous growths that appear in the mouth, cheeks, lips and tongue. In general, and like most cancers, age is going to be the primary risk factor for oral cancer - indeed, most people who are diagnosed are over the age of 50. Statistics for oral cancer are quite shocking, and delayed detection and diagnosis are the principal reasons for worst-case outcomes (and mortality).
Needless to say, tobacco use would be a major risk factor for oral cancer - this would include all age groups. Interestingly, 25% of oral cancer sufferers have no real lifestyle risk factors. Tobacco users who are younger than age 40 are considered at high risk. Finally, the highest risk patients are those aged 40+ who use tobacco and/or alcohol on a regular basis. All things considered, patients with a family history of oral cancer need to be attentive.
At the Mackenzie Dental Centre, Dr. Lloyd Pedvis provides comprehensive oral cancer screening as part of the clinic’s preventive approach to oral health. Using the VELscope® System, exams are an integral part of the cancer screening program, with no-obligation screenings available to all patients. VELscope® is complementary to conventional visual exams, which are indispensable to early and accurate diagnoses. Best of all, the exam routinely takes a few minutes.
With new technology advancing all the time, VELscope® has changed oral cancer screening. The device is hand-held, and emits a harmless blue light that allows the dentist to carefully inspect the oral cavity. The blue-spectrum light of VELscope® actually causes the soft tissue of the mouth and tongue to fluoresce. Healthy tissue fluoresces differently than tissue that has experienced physical change (this can happen for many reasons, one of which is oral cancer).
At the Mackenzie Dental Centre, Dr. Pedvis uses the VELscope® device to supplement traditional oral exams. The device helps to identify abnormal tissue, including cancerous or pre-cancerous abnormalities. And while visual exams are essential to diagnosis, VELscope® is extremely helpful when the naked eye needs assistance. Bottom line: examinations can be far more thorough, and suspicious areas of the mouth can be more fully investigated and examined.
When it comes to oral health, Dr. Pedvis is committed to a preventive approach, along with early diagnosis. In the case of oral cancer, the survival rate with early detection is meaningful. On the down side, however, many cases of oral cancer are discovered late. VELscope® provides an extra measure of early detection, giving dentists and hygienists an additional diagnostic tool which will benefit the patient. Importantly, the device is only step one in the process.
While biopsy is considered to be the gold standard in diagnosing oral cancer, VELscope® plays an integral role in detection and diagnosis. After all, with any health concern, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The truth is, early detection, especially with conditions like oral cancer, is the key to treatment success and survival.