VELscope in Lake Oswego, OR


Oral Cancer Screenings: Early Treatment is Effective Treatment

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be over 54,000 new cases of oral cancer in the United States this year. Early treatment greatly increases the five year relative survival rate, but oral cancer can be easy to miss and often doesn’t get diagnosed until lesions have formed or the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is why regular oral cancer screenings are vital to your oral and overall health. 

You may not know this, but dentists are trained to identify possibly cancerous tissues and precancers with oral cancer screenings. At Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego, Dr. Bowden offers oral cancer screenings using the advanced VELscope system.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral or oropharyngeal cancer refers to cancers found in the tissues and structures of the oral cavity including the lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, cheeks, throat (pharynx), sinuses, and hard and soft palate. Common symptoms of oral cancer include: 

  • Persistent sore throat
  • Feeling that something is caught at the back of the throat
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Bleeding sores on the face, neck, or mouth that don’t heal within two weeks
  • Unexplained loss of feeling, pain, or numbness in the face, neck, or mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Lumps, bumps, or rough spots on the gums, lips, or other parts of the mouth
  • Red, white, or speckled red and white patches in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, or swallowing
  • Changes in the way your teeth or dentures fit together    

If you suspect you have any of these symptoms, Dr. Bowden recommends you call our Lake Oswego office by dialing (503) 675-7300 to schedule an oral cancer screening.   

What Is The VELscope?

VELscope is an oral cancer screening system that works by utilizing fluorescence visualization. Fluorescence visualization helps your dentist detect cancerous and potentially cancerous lesions and other lesions that might not be apparent to the naked eye. The VELscope is cleared by the FDA and Health Canada for cancer detection and is also cleared to help surgeons determine appropriate surgical margins. 

How Does the VELscope Work?

VELscope emits specific wavelengths of blue spectrum light. The blue light excites fluorophores, which are naturally occurring molecules that absorb specific wavelengths of light. When exposed to blue light, the fluorophores emit their own light — in shades of green, yellow and red. 

Normal fluorescence patterns tend to make oral tissue appear green under blue light, while abnormal fluorescence patterns may make oral tissue look darker or brighter. VELscope’s proprietary filter makes fluorescence visualization possible by blocking reflected blue light, enhancing the contrast between normal and abnormal tissue.

VELscope Oral Cancer Screening

Before Dr. Bowden goes forward with a VELscope oral cancer screening, he’ll thoroughly examine your mouth and review your medical history. This will help him determine your current level of oral health and identify areas of interest, as well as risk factors for oral cancer such as genetics, age, and habits. 

After your dentist has examined your mouth and you’ve both decided to go forward with the screening, he’ll provide you with a pair of specially designed glasses to protect your eyes. Then, your dentist will use the handheld VELscope piece to illuminate every part of the inside of your mouth, looking through the lens to identify abnormal tissues.

If your dentist identifies any abnormal tissues, he’ll follow up with you to determine which course of action to take next, such as further exams and having you see a specialist.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the VELscope safe?
Does the VELscope generate “false positives” for oral cancer?
How often should I get an oral cancer screening with the VELscope?
How much do oral cancer screenings with the VELscope cost?
Is the VELscope safe?

Yes, the VELscope system is completely safe. The handpiece does not emit any radiation. The only thing being shone into the oral cavity is blue light, generated by light emitting diodes.

Does the VELscope generate “false positives” for oral cancer?

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

How often should I get an oral cancer screening with the VELscope?

The Oral Cancer Foundation recommends you get screened for oral cancer at least once a year. Depending on your habits and your medical history, Dr. Bowden may recommend you undergo a screening more often. Your dentist can give you his opinion on how often you should have an oral cancer screening based on the information he gathers.

How much do oral cancer screenings with the VELscope cost?

The exact cost of your VELscope oral cancer screening will vary based on a variety of factors including your insurance. Dr. Bowden and the rest of the team at Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego encourage you to call your provider beforehand and ask them which costs they can cover. If you’re concerned about costs, your dentist can also help you afford your screening with financing options, including third-party financing through CareCredit

Guard Your Health With Early Detection From The VELscope!

Early detection is an essential factor in beating oral cancer. Your Lake Oswego dentist, Dr. Bowden has the tools and the skill set necessary for detecting possible cancers and precancers, so you can get the care you need as soon as possible. If it’s been a while since your last oral cancer screening, we encourage you to call our Lake Oswego office by dialing (503) 675-7300 and schedule an appointment. You can also fill out our appointment request form and a friendly team member will get back to you shortly. 

Your award-winning dentist proudly utilizes his years of service to provide comprehensive dental excellence for his Lake Oswego patients, as well as patients from neighboring areas such as Portland, Tualatin, Wilsonville, Beaverton, Tigard, and Sherwood, OR.