Oral cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Every hour of every day in America someone dies of Oral Cancer. Oral Cancer is the sixth-most common diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. Presently 30,000 patients are diagnosed annually with oral cancer. The 5-year survival rate is only 50%, accounting for 8,000 deaths each year. The incidence of oral cancer is growing in the common population these days. Considering the lifestyle changes, habits, stress related to daily activities, previous exposures to risk factors like smoking, tobacco chewing, alcoholism, extensive sunlight exposure, family history of oral cancer and similar risk factors may increase one’s chances of getting involved with certain oral precancerous or cancerous conditions, compromised or weak immune systems and also very important factor called HPV virus (Human Papilloma Virus).
HPV linked to Oral Cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to oral cancer cases in young, non-smoking individuals with low levels of alcohol consumption. It is imperative to have them diagnosed at the earliest stage for them to be cured or have a better survival rate. A normal oral examination involves a bare eye examination for tissue changes to be seen during a routine dental examination.
However, surprisingly studies have shown that recently 25% of all newly diagnosed cases have been in patients under the age of forty with none of the known risk factors which brings a large majority of population under the risk and need for scanning and screening.
Oral Cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved in the past 50 years. This is due primarily to the fact that during this time we have not changed the way we screen for this disease (a visual and manual examination of the oral cavity, head, and neck).
The most common form of oral cancer is Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas (OSCC) and it make up over 90% of all oral cancers. Due to its appearance it has been difficult to differentiate from the other relatively benign lesions of the oral cavity. Early OSCC and potentially malignant lesions can appear as a white patch (Leukoplakia, or as a reddened area (Erythroplakia), or as a red and white (Erythro-leukoplakia) mucosal change under standard white light examination. However, these cellular changes are often non-detectable to the human eye (even with magnification eyewear) under standard lighting conditions. Often, when the lesion becomes visible, it has advanced to invasive stages. The high mortality rate is directly related to the lack of early detection of potentially malignant lesions. When diagnosis and treatment are performed at or before a Stage 1 carcinoma level, the survival rate is more than 90%.
The cancers which have seen a major decline in the mortality rate have included colon, cervical, and prostate cancer and the primary reason is early detection and screening.
We can make a difference in the oral cancer mortality rate.
Early Detection is vital!
When cancer is discovered late, survival rates are as low as 28%; when it’s discovered early, survival rates are as high as 82%.
With the studies, it is usually found that the lesions that show up and have precancerous or cancerous potential tend to show up later once they have grown to an advanced stage. This is when the bare eye examination can catch such lesions, but may not be necessary to treat in earlier stages.
For this purpose, usually an oral cancer examination with assistance from an advanced lesion detection device (based on velscope technology) is recommended and incorporated as a part of your routine dental examination appointment.
We are now incorporating state of the art velscope based advanced lesion detection device called Sapphire-LD that has very high specificity for identifying of any such potential lesions that usually go unnoticed with bare eye examination. It involves using an advanced technology to view the tissue changes below the surfaces of oral tissues to assist in diagnosing and treating the lesions in earlier stages.
The potential to reveal what’s hidden
Under examination with our detection device, normal tissue appears green while dysplasia shows up as a dark area, exposing potential suspicious lesions that may not have been apparent under incandescent light.
Early screening, diagnosis, and treatment planning saves lives.
How Does it work?
The fluorescence technology aids in the early visualization of mucosal diseases and enhances effective oral mucosal screening.
It comes as a revolutionary hand-held device that provides dentists and hygienists with an easy-to-use adjunctive mucosal examination system for the early detection of abnormal tissue. The patented VELscope technology platform was developed in collaboration with the British Columbia Cancer Agency and MD Anderson Cancer Center, with funding provided in part by the NIH. It is based on the direct visualization of tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occur when abnormalities are present.
The hand-held device piece emits a safe blue light into the oral cavity, which excites the tissue from the surface of the epithelium through to the basement membrane (where premalignant changes typically start) and into the stroma beneath, causing it to fluoresce. The clinician is then able to immediately view the different fluorescence responses to help differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue. In fact, it is the only non-invasive adjunctive device clinically proven to help discover occult oral disease.
Typically, healthy tissue appears as a bright apple-green glow while suspicious regions are identified by a loss of fluorescence, which thus appear dark.
It provides a more effective oral cancer screening protocol with immediate benefits for the patient, clinician and practice
When used as an adjunctive aid in combination with traditional oral cancer examination procedures, it facilitates the early discovery and visualization of mucosal abnormalities prior to surface exposure that may be, or may lead to oral cancer. In one or two minutes, with no rinses or stains required, a typical examination with the device helps oral healthcare professionals assure their patients that the standard of care for oral mucosal screening has been utilized. Through the CDT code D0431, an increasing number of insurance companies are recognizing velscope based device such as Sapphire -LD as an adjunctive screening device. It combines minimal per-patient costs with more effective screening.