Most of us are familiar with cancer. Its crossed our path in one way or another during our lifetime. We don’t necessarily know why we get it but unfortunately it happens.
We don’t know why we get it but we do know how. Cancer (all forms) is mainly caused by problems with cell replication. Daily our cells which form our tissues undergo death and replication which is all a very complex process involving many stages that have to work precisely. Tissues with higher than normal replication cycles include but are not limited to: skin, breast, GI tract, genital, oral.
Lets take this discussion and focus on oral. Oral tissues involve tongue, lips, mucosal lining of mouth (including hard and soft palate), salivary glands, tonsils, beginning of throat.
Daily, we eat and drink, most of us three times a day or more. What do we eat or drink? Everything and anything. Sometimes we don’t even know whats in the food we eat or the things we drink. The things we place in our mouth sit on our tongue, our oral tissues, or teeth. Things we place in our mouths can be cold, hot, spicy, salty, sweet, acidic, basic, and even toxic! As you can see the tissue in our mouth undergoes many cycles. Daily we loose and rebuild cells in our oral tissues at a higher rate that other parts of the body.
Just like other types of cancer, oral cancer has a good prognosis if detected early. For years dentist have detected oral cancer, but have detected it when they could visibly see it. Once you can visibly see oral cancer its likely to be in a lower prognosis. (stage 3 or 4)
Until 5 years ago, there was no other way for dentist to detect oral cancer other that visibly. Gynecologist detect cancer with a pap smear, but dentist never had a pre-visible diagnostic attack on cancer until now.
Enter the Velscope.
The Velscope is a light that shines on the tissues and fluoresces normal tissue green. If the tissue does not fluoresce green, it needs to be looked at in greater detail. This technology allows dentist to actually look into tissues in greater detail and detect cancer in earlier stages. This technology is also moving to the gynecological circuit as they are hoping to reduce pap smears. (After all a pap smear caused you to rebuild cells that just got scrapped off)
Is this light safe?
Completely! Its not a laser, its a normal light that is taken at a different spectrum to allow fluorescence.
Since the Velscopes introduction, oral cancer is quickly on the rise. I believe this is due to dentists being more aware and easily being able to detect it. We have elected to participate in this brilliant Velscope technology. Everyday we learn something new and things seem to always change.
It is my job as a clinician to keep you informed. Till next time….
Have a great day!