VELscope® screening for oral cancer: what you need to know?
Oral cancer can include any cancerous formation in the mouth, on the lips, tongue, inside of cheeks, gum tissues or even throat. Smokers, people who consume alcohol excessively and individuals with a poor diet may be at a higher risk for developing oral cancer, but it can affect anyone of any age or background. Catching oral cancer as early as possible can dramatically increase a patient’s chance of survival. This is why, at Kerrisdale Dental Clinic, we use the VELscope® oral assessment system to illuminate cancerous tissues which may not be visible to the naked eye.
Things to watch for
Brush and floss your teeth regularly, and watch for any unusual bumps, lesions, or red or white patches on your lips, gums, tongue or the inside of your cheeks. If you see any abnormality like this, and it doesn’t disappear within a week or so, it’s a good idea to go see a dentist. Your dentist will thoroughly examine your mouth and use the VELscope® handheld scope, which will use tissue fluorescence visualization to enable the dentist to see even slight abnormalities in oral mucosal tissues.
Treating oral cancer
Once the VELscope® Handpiece has detected unhealthy tissues indicative of oral cancer, treatment will involve a team of medical and dental professionals. The cancerous lesion may be surgically removed, but chemotherapy will likely be necessary. The combination of surgery and chemotherapy has been shown to be effective, especially in the early stages of oral cancer.
Wear a lip balm or chapstick that contains spf if you are going to be out in the sun. This will help protect the delicate skin on your lips from harmful UV rays, which can contribute to cancer. Try to eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, and limit alcohol and tobacco products. If you need help quitting smoking, ask your dentist. There are many products, resources and medications that can help ease the process of quitting.
One of the best things you can do is see your dentist regularly for an exam, which will include a screening for oral cancer. Dentists are specially trained to recognize symptoms early on, and with the aid of the VELscope® Handpiece can see those hard-to-reach places that you might miss when doing a self-examination. If your dentist notices anything of concern, he or she can order a biopsy of the area to determine if it cancerous. Many oral cancer deaths could be prevented had the cancer been detected earlier.