In a great show of support and generosity, one of our newest sponsors, LED Dental, has donated the latest model of their innovative oral cancer screening tool, the VELscope Vx, to the OSU James Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The VELscope is an adjunctive mucosal visualization tool; essentially, a special fluorescent light used to examine the soft tissue in the mouth for signs of oral abnormalities and dysplasia. The light from the scope makes the entire mouth fluoresce the color green. Dark patches in the mouth indicate areas where the tissue has changed and could potentially be pre-cancerous. VELscope examinations are quick (usually about 2 minutes), require no rinses or chemicals, give off no radiation or discomfort, and generally only run between $15-$25 per exam. Most importantly, unlike other examination methods, it is able to detect what the naked eye cannot see and create an image of it, that can be referred to other doctors and dentists for assessment.
The technology behind VELscope is not new. In fact, it has been used as a method of detection for various other types of cancer, mostly lung cancer, for about twelve years. According to LED Dental's Ebon Turner, it was only until about six years ago that "some very innovative individuals" decided to look into what other cancers it could be used for.
Oral, head and neck cancer is now the sixth most common type of cancer in the world, and one that is notorious for going unnoticed until it is too late. In fact, sixty-six percent of the time, oral cancers will be found as late stage three and four diseases. Because many of these cases are not be detected early enough, nearly half the victims die within five years.
These sobering statistics are what led to the development of the VELscope.
"It's normal for people to see their doctors for a variety of other annual screenings, why not an oral health screening?" Turner said.
Ebon and his colleagues at LED Dental have been very supportive of the Joan's Foundation and our mutual cause, helping spread the word to their customers all over Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. It is his goal, as well as our's, to raise awareness in the public about the importance of this issue. The more technology and information is available, the more people will begin to demand these services from their dental professionals and take more responsibility for their oral health.