The growing headlines are worrisome. Oral cancer kills one person every hour in the U.S., and a person may have oral cancer and not even know it. In almost all cases of oral cancer, early detection plays a major role in a patient’s chances of survival. The 5-year relative survival rate for oral cancer in the US is approximately 40% when diagnosed in late stages but over 86% if diagnosed when it is still localized in the mouth. Unfortunately, only 28% of oral cancer is discovered while it is still localized. The goal of the VELscope is to change that statistic in a way that’s practical for both the dental team and the patient.
What are your unassisted eyes missing?
Every patient appointment includes an visual and tactile exam – but sometimes it’s not enough. This was the case for Amber Young. At 35 years old, she visited a practice on a “$99 New Patient Special” coupon. During her exam, the team performed a traditional oralexam, acquired a panoramic x-ray, and also performed a VELscope exam. There were no visible signs of concern evident during the traditional oral examination. However, when observed with the VELscope, some of the tissue in her mouth demonstrated an abnormal fluorescence response which was subsequently found to be a golf ball sized tumor growing inside her jawbone. Amber was diagnosed with Clear Cell Odontogenic Carcinoma. At the time, there were less than 100 reported cases in the entire world, and due to its unique nature it cannot be treated with chemo or radiation therapies to be effective.
Amber Young is an oral cancer survivor thanks to her dentist and the VELscope.
The tissue fluorescence visualization technology platform on which the VELscope system is based is the culmination of over $50 million in research funded by the National Institutes of Health and other respected institutions and conducted by such leading organizations as the British Columbia Cancer Agency and the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Translating this highly sophisticated, breakthrough technology for use as an efficacious device to examine the oral mucosa was the brainchild of LED Dental and the British Columbia Cancer Agency.
Launched in 2006 as the first tissue fluorescence device made commercially available to the dental community, the VELscope system revolutionized the dental practitioner’s ability to visualize the oral mucosal environment. A latest generation device,VELscope Vx, is hand-held, portable and includes other advancements such as photo-documentation for case management and communication. The VELscope system remains the first and only device in widespread use that is cleared by the FDA to help dental practitioners discover tissue changes, including dysplasia and cancer, that might not be apparent to the naked eye, and to help surgeons determine the appropriate surgical margin when excising cancerous lesions.
“We know from user surveys that the VELscope exam is easy to administer, takes only two to three minutes, and is financially attractive for the practice. What’s more, patients find it very affordable and love the fact that is fast and painless. Most importantly, clinicians are telling us that it’s helping them discover abnormal tissue that they otherwise would have missed. When you look at these simple facts, there is absolutely no reason why every dental practice should not have a VELscope system.”
Wayne Rees, President and CEO of LED Dental Inc.
Oral cancer rates are on the rise, but dental teams can take a stand against oral cancer with VELscope.
A dentist’s role in battling cancer is not widely advertised, but as the only healthcare professional looking into patients’ mouths, it should be. Over one hundred Americans develop oral cancer every day, and one American dies of the disease every hour of every day.
Even though tobacco usage is declining, the rate of occurrence of oral cancer is actually increasing – This increase is widely attributed in large part to the spread of HPV-16, a strain of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus strongly associated with about 2/3 of oropharyngeal cancers. This has led many health experts to recommend that anyone old enough to have sex should receive an oral cancer exam at least once a year.
When was the last time you referred a patient for further diagnosis for oral cancer?
Unfortunately, many cases go undetected until they have progressed to a more advanced stage, and missing the diagnosis can leave you liable for damages. In 2022, an Oregon man filed suit against his dentist for $6.6 Million in medical malpractice damages after he lost part of his tongue and suffered the effects of advanced cancer. If you are relying on oral exams and palpation exams, what could you be missing? By using VELscope’s technology, dentists can screen for oral cancer and other oral diseases quickly and accurately, potentially catching issues at an early stage and improving patient outcomes. Because of the clinical evidence of enhanced detection, more malpractice insurance companies are reducing premiums to practices that utilize VELscope. See how much your premium can be reduced as a VELscope provider.
How long does an oral cancer screening take?
Dental professionals are trained to conduct visual and tactile head and neck exams that screen for oral cancer and other oral disease, but often feel rushed to complete this essential step. A VELscope exam only adds 1-2 minutes and easily fits into an existing workflow.
The VELscope system is a powerful, fluorescence-based device that enhances the visualization of oral mucosal abnormalities such as oral cancer.premalignant dysplasia and other oral disease. Unlike other adjunctive devices used by dentists, the VELscope system does not require any dyes, special goggles, or prolonged testing procedures. In fact, VELscope examinations are typically performed in the dentist’s office during routine hygiene exams.
LED Dental is currently looking for US practices for its latest Research and Development study to integrate AI into the screening process. The aim of the study is for AI and computer-enhanced assessments to assist clinicians in making faster, more confident decisions for patient care. By participating in this study, practices may be eligible for tax rebates and credits for equipment purchases as well as patient experience improvements.
More information and study registration are available on the VELscope website.
When and how often should you screen patients for oral cancer?
If you’re worried about scaring patients – firstly, make it clear to the patient that an oral mucosal screening, while checking for signs of oral cancer, is also looking for all types of oral conditions and, secondly, we’ve built extensive training into our program and are currently building AI support as well. You are not alone on this journey to save patient’s lives – our team is here to give you the tools, training, and support to make an impact.
You can choose to screen your patients annually, twice a year, or every time they come in based on their lifestyle and risk factors. Some factors to consider include:
- HPV-16 infection
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Betel quid and gutka
- Excess body weight
- UV light exposure
- Poor nutrition
- Genetic factors
VELscope can help provide peace of mind by alerting clinicians to potentially dangerous tissue that might otherwise have been overlooked but also a plethora of other oral disease which benefits from early detection and appropriate clinical management. It can also help reduce the risk of malpractice claims down the road. By using the technology to screen for oral cancer, dentists can help demonstrate that they are taking a proactive approach to patient care and doing as much as they can to prevent serious issues from going undetected.
VELscope is intended to be used by a dentist or health-care provider as an adjunct to traditional oral examination by incandescent light to enhance the visualization of oral mucosal abnormalities that may not be apparent or visible to the naked eye, such as oral cancer or premalignant dysplasia. VELscope is further intended to be used by a surgeon to help identify diseased tissue around a clinically apparent lesion and thus aid in determining the appropriate margin for surgical excision.
From potentially saving lives to improving the thoroughness of oral screenings and reducing the risk of malpractice issues, the benefits are clear. By incorporating this technology into their practices, dentists can provide better care to their patients and have peace of mind.
Screening For Oral Cancer can not only be beneficial for the patient but also for the practice.
Post-Covid, there have been significant changes in dentistry, especially associated with employee turnover and increases in wages. Unfortunately, dental insurance has not increased comensurate with these increased practice costs. As most practice charge a minimal fee for a VELscope exam, just doing 3 VELscope screenings a day will increase hygiene production easily offsetting increases in costs. A recent survey of VELscope Certified offices showed a 48% increase in exam revenue confirming the impact VELscope can have to the bottom line.
Are all oral cancer screening tools created the same?
No! VELscope’s enhanced oral assessment system is the only oral screening technology recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an innovative device that addresses global health concerns. Since the introduction of the original VELscope® system in 2006, over 50 million VELscope® exams have been performed by more than 20,000 dental professionals in 23 countries.
The VELscope system’s regulatory clearances were based in part on three clinical studies conducted by researchers at the British Columbia Cancer Agency. The first, “Simple Device for the Direct Visualization of Oral Cavity Fluorescence,” was published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics in 2006. The second, “Fluorescence Visualization Detection of Field Alterations in Tumor Margins of Oral Cancer Patients,” was published in the prestigious Clinical Cancer Research journal in 2006. The third, “Direct Fluorescence Visualization of Clinically Occult High-Risk Oral Premalignant Disease Using a Simple Hand-Held Device,” was published in the equally prestigious Head & Neck journal in early 2007.
Of all the oral screening adjuncts currently available, VELscope is the only technology with extensive clinical studies published in the peer-reviewed literature supporting its efficacy as an oral mucosal screening tool and as a tool to help visualize surgical margins around cancerous lesions. A recent review found 49 clinical or case studies relating to its use to enhance visualization of abnormal tissue during oral cancer screening and another 11 studies or systematic reviews related to VELscope in helping delineate surgical margins.
Join LED Dental and Be A Hero for Your Patients:
Participate in the VELscope AI Study and receive a free VELscope and 7+ new patients per month. There are no out-of-pocket costs for the clinician. We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you with our strategic partners, grants, and a team of CPAs to help you maximize your savings and write-offs. In fact, 80% of your labor will be a tax write-off for these screenings. $32,000 is the average tax rebate for practices using the VELscope and other common technologies.
Not every practice will qualify for this Research & Development Program.
Learn more and apply at https://velscope.com/free-velscope/.