by Dr. Monica Sierraalta​

Oral Cancer Screening

Why VELscope Vx?


The VELscope Vx is a hand-held device that provides dentists and hygienists with an easy-to-integrate adjunctive mucosal examination system for the early detection of a wide variety of oral diseases, including pre-cancer and cancer.


Used in conjunction with the conventional intra-oral and extra-oral head and neck exam, the VELscope Vx facilitates the discovery of mucosal abnormalities before they become visible under ordinary light. The VELscope Vx is the only non-invasive adjunctive device clinically proven to help discover occult oral disease.

How Does the VELscope Vx Work?


The VELscope Vx hand piece emits a safe blue light into the oral cavity, which excites natural fluorophores from the surface of the epithelium through to the basement membrane (where premalignant changes typically begin) and into the stroma beneath, causing it to fluoresce. The VELscope Vx’s proprietary filter makes fluorescence visualization possible, by blocking reflected blue light, and by enhancing the contrast between normal and abnormal tissue.

Is the VELscope Vx a Diagnostic Tool?


Like other visualization technologies, such as panoramic radiography, CT, MRI, PET and ultrasound, the VELscope Vx is NOT a stand-alone diagnostic test. However, used in conjunction with the standard oral soft tissue exam, VELscope Vx provides visual information that cannot be acquired in any other way.

Does the VELscope Vx Generate “False Positives” for Oral Cancer?


False positives occur when a diagnostic test mistakenly signals the presence of disease. The VELscope Vx system is NOT a diagnostic test, and does not, consequently, generate false positives. As an adjunctive visualization tool, the VELscope Vx helps dental professionals discover a wide range of unhealthy tissue in the mouth, including oral pre-cancer and cancer.

VELscope: Impressive New Findings


A recent 620-patient study at the University of Washington has provided additional insights into VELscope’s potential. Within a dental school setting, the addition of VELscope to routine clinical examinations resulted in the detection of a number of mucosal abnormalities not detected by the conventional exam. Importantly, these abnormalities included not only a number of dysplasias, but also lichen planus and other inflammatory lesions.


The study highlights an aspect of VELscope that is sometimes overlooked. In addition to the detection of oral cancers and pre-cancers, the VELscope system is showing itself to be a powerful tool for the discovery of mucosal abnormalities such as:

Benefits Patients, Clinicians and Practice


When used as an adjunctive aid in combination with traditional oral cancer examination procedures, VELscope facilitates the early discovery and visualization of mucosal abnormalities, including oral cancer. In one or two minutes, with no rinses or stains required, a VELscope system examination helps healthcare professionals assess their patients’ overall oral health.

Oral Cancer & Oral Disease


There’s a growing trend within general dentistry that stresses the importance of overall oral health – not only health of teeth and gums, but of all the soft tissues in the oral cavity and oropharynx.


Growing numbers of clinical practitioners now incorporate routine intra- and extra-oral head and neck exams into their hygiene appointments to screen for dysplasia, oral cancer and a host of other oral diseases.

Oral Cancer


When found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90% survival rate. Unfortunately the majority of cases are found as late-stage cancers, accounting for the high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis, and high treatment related morbidity in survivors.


Found early, while still Localized (confined to the primary site), oral cancer’s five-year survival rate is strong: about 83%. Only 33% of all oral cancer discoveries fall into this category. Found while Regional (after progressed to regional lymph nodes), the five-year survival rate drops significantly, to about 55%. Approximately 46% of all oral cancer discoveries are Regional. Found late, oral cancer’s five-year survival rate is poor: approximately 32%. This accounts for approximately 14% of all oral cancer findings. Clearly, finding oral cancer in its early stages is key to survival. Routine VELscope Vx examinations can improve the morbidity and mortality of oral-cancer, because the VELscope Vx system assists in early detection, potentially saving lives through less invasive, more effective treatment.

HPV — Changing the Demographics of Oral Cancer


An increasing body of evidence points to a strong link between particular strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV, most notably strain 16) and a certain type of oral cancer that occurs in the oropharynx. HPV 16 is the same strain associated with almost all cervical cancer. Many experts now recommend that all adult patients over the age of 18 receive a thorough intra- and extra-oral head and neck exam annually.


For more information on oral cancer, please visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.

Please fill out the form to book an appointment.