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VelscopeThis is a hand held device used to carry out a non invasive, painless examination of the soft tissues (everything except your teeth e.g. cheek ,tongue, roof of mouth) to detect abnormalities within the mouth.These are the area where oral cancer may develop and every dentist takes care to examine these areas to do all we can to detect any abnormalities early.

Velscope helps us greatly in this endeavour as it provides greatly enhanced vision of abnormalities in the mouth that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Rates of oral cancer are rocketing, with 4500 new cases diagnosed every year in the U.K. The five year survival is less than 40% but with early detection this rises to over 90%. Early detection is vital for a favourable long term prognosis and treatment.

The Velscope emits a safe blue light into the mouth. This stimulates the natural fluorescence of the tissues, passing through the surface into the basement layer (where most pre-malignant changes take place) and into the underlying stroma.

Viewed through the Velscope screen, the difference between normal and abnormal tissues
are contrasted.

At crescent dental we use Velscope to assess;

  • Viral, Fungal and Bacterial infections
  • Inflammatory Conditions from a variety of causes
  • Squamous Cell Papillomas and Dysplasia
  • Salivary Gland Tumours

While we would not treat any of these conditions we will be able to transfer you for assessment of any irregularity through a red flag referral process should we have reason for serious concern or wish to rule out oral cancer.

Controllable Risk Factors

  1. Tobacco. In all forms and regardless of how it is used (smoking, chewing) tobacco is a major contributor to the development of oral cancers. Refraining from the use of tobacco is the single most important thing you can do to avoid oral cancer
  2. Excessive Alcohol Consumption. More than 15 alcoholic beverages a week will put you at greater risk. If you drink alcohol it is wise to monitor this and to do so in moderation.
  3. The combined use of tobacco and alcohol. This combination multiplies the risk of oral cancer than either by itself
  4. Excessive Unprotected Exposure to the Sun. The lips are prone to developing cancer if exposed to the sun use at least SPF 30 sunblock on your lips and a brimmed hat or cap
  5. Low Intake of Fruits and Vegetables. These foods contain many protective nutrients, that protect against a wide range of illnesses as well as oral cancers.
  6. Use of Betel Nuts and Bedis. When chewed or smoked these are causative agents of mouth cancers, avoid their use.

Risk Factors in which your control is limited

  1. Age. Older individuals tend to develop more disease in general, including oral cancer as their immune system becomes less efficient. Again your diet can be used to maximise your immune system
  2. HPV16 Viral Infection. Increasing numbers of young, non smoking individuals are being diagnosed with oral cancer. The causative factor is persistent HPV16 viral infection, the virus responsible for more than 95% of cervical cancers. Testing for HPV16 is becoming common, but individuals carrying the virus are unlikely to know they have it, as there are no symptoms. Currently there are no preventative or avoidance measures that will prevent sexual transmission of this virus. Limiting the numbers of sexual partners decreases your risk of contracting the virus and a vaccination programme is in place for teenage females.
  3. Recurrence. Previous head and neck cancer patients have a higher risk of cancer recurrence that may occur in the mouth or aero-digestive tract
  4. Gender. Males suffer oral cancer more than females, this is due to lifestyle rather than biological issues
  5. Race and Socio-Economics. There are both ethnic and social factors that predispose various groups to various types of cancers

In the early stages of oral cancer it is often painless and the physical signs not obvious, this makes oral cancer particularly dangerous. Regular, thorough screening will allow discovery of any changes at the earliest possible stage when cure and survival are most likely, with the Velscope even pre-cancerous changes can be detected.

Early Signs

  1. Red and/or white patches on the soft tissues in the mouth
  2. Any sore or ulcer that does not heal within 14 days
  3. Hoarseness that lasts for a prolonged period of time

Advanced Indications

  1. A sensation that something is stuck in the throat.
  2. Numbness anywhere in the oral region
  3. Difficulty in swallowing
  4. Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue
  5. Ear pain on one side only
  6. Thickening or lumps that develop anywhere in the mouth, head or neck
  7. A sore under a denture that doesn’t heal even when the denture has been adjusted or not worn for a few days

Cancers of the head and neck are dangerous, the statistics are alarming, early detection is the key to a good outcome

BE AWARE, of signs and symptoms

AVOID RISK FACTORS, make healthy lifestyle choices

HAVE REGULAR PROFESSIONAL SCREENING, most cancers can be detected early when survival rates are highest.

At Crescent Dental Health, we screen all our patients with Velscope every two years or
earlier if we consider you at higher risk of suffering cancer.