Cancer Detector

In April 2016, Polish, Stuff by Christa GalaLeave a Comment

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It’s the cancer no one’s talking about, but more than 48,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year with oral cancer, now the sixth leading (and fastest growing) cancer in the United States.

Triangle Dentistry recently started using a hand-held scanner called the Velscope during routine exams to help spot early signs of cancer in the mouth and on the tongue. If mouth cancers are caught early, the five-year survival rate increases from 50 to 83 percent. We asked Dr. N. Danielle Tart D.D.S. about the cancer check.

Dr. Tart

Dr. Tart

Q. The Velscope helps detect potential mouth cancers invisible to the human eye. When did your office start using the Velscope?

A. We recently switched to the Velscope technology. We have a strong commitment to our patients’ overall health, employing both visual exams as well as chemilumenescence. Now, we have a tool that is superior and more readily accepted by our patients. No pre-rinse is necessary, and the exam only takes a few seconds. It is easy, pain-free and a great adjunct to our visual exam.

Q. Have you ever treated or identified a mouth cancer in your practice before? Are they difficult to see with the naked eye?

A. Some of the oral cancers in our practice were apparent during the routine examination, including a 20-year-old female with squamous cell carcinoma. By the time a lesion is seen, it is typically stage II-IV, and the five-year prognosis is poor.

Q. Mouth cancers are often difficult to detect in the early stages. How does the Velscope work to help dentists identify suspicious areas?

A. The Velscope technology is a blue light system designed to better appreciate changes in the outer epithelial layers of the oral cavity. Areas of concern appear dark or grey/black compared with surrounding tissues which look green through the scope.

Q. Are there signs or symptoms early on?

A. Unfortunately, signs or symptoms are not always evident to patients. During visual examination, dentists look for the “ABCD’s” of oral cancer landmarks. These include asymmetry, borders, color and diameter.

Q. Will the velscope be used at regular appointments now or just on request?

A. The Velscope exam is recommended to our patients on an annual basis. It will also be offered complimentary to new patients at their initial exam appointment. The exam is $78, which many insurance companies cover.

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