Oral Cancer Screening System
VELscope is designed to be an adjunct to traditional oral cancer examination procedures.
According to the manufacturer, VELscope technology is based in part on the direct visualization of tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occur when abnormalities are present. It was developed in collaboration with the British Columbia Cancer Agency with significant funding from the National Institutes of Health.
When the 6 dentist evaluators were asked about the importance of patient comfort when purchasing an oral cancer screening system, 2 said it was very important, 3 said it was important, and 1 was neutral on the subject. However, when they rated VELscope on patient comfort, 3 rated it as excellent, 2 rated it as very good, and 1 rated it as good.
Persuading Patients to Have a Screening
The evaluators were asked how important they thought it was that persuading a patient to have a screening should be easy. Two of the evaluators said very important, 2 said important, and 2 were neutral. Then the evaluators were asked to rate the ease of persuading patients to have a screening with VELscope and they gave the device high marks. Three evaluators said it was excellent, 1 said it was very good, and 2 said it was good. One evaluator commented that “most [patients] accept the concept.”
How VELscope Works
The use of VELscope is fairly straight forward. The clinician shines the VELscope handpiece into the patient’s mouth. The handpiece emits a blue light that excites the oral tissue from the surface of the epithelium through to the basement membrane, which is where premalignant changes usually begin, and into the stroma beneath. The light then causes the tissue to fluoresce. Abnormal tissue typically appears as an irregular, dark area that stands out against the otherwise normal, green fluorescence pattern of surrounding healthy tissue.
VELscope is an adjunct to a traditional intra- and extraoral examination. If a suspicious lesion cannot be determined to be benign, the manufacturer recommends that clinicians use their clinical judgment and proceed according to the regular standard of care (eg, a follow-up examination in 2 weeks and/or referral to a specialist as appropriate). If at that time the lesion has not resolved, the patient should be referred to a specialist.
When the dentist evaluators were asked if they would recommend VELscope to colleagues, 3 said they definitely or probably would; 3 said they were not sure. When asked if they would purchase VELscope in the future, 50% said definitely. For overall satisfaction, 4 of the evaluators gave VELscope an excellent to good rating. One evaluator commented on return on investment, saying that they are “not yet charging for the exam but [it is] great PR.” Another evaluator commented on how VELscope has “improved [the] quality” of their practice’s ability to care for patients’ systemic health.