World Health Organization honors oral cancer screening device
BURNABY, CANADA / NEW YORK, NY, USA: The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recognized the VELscope enhanced oral assessment system as an innovative device that addresses global health concerns. In 2009, the WHO Department of Essential Health Technologies challenged the scientific and business communities to identify and develop innovative technologies to address global health concerns.
On June 30, following months of evaluation, the organization officially recognized those innovative medical devices, either existing or under development, which address global health concerns and which are likely to be accessible, appropriate and affordable for use in low- and middle-income countries.
The VELscope system, manufactured by LED Dental, was one of only eight commercialized devices to be so honored.
“It is extremely gratifying to receive this prestigious honor,” said Peter Whitehead, founder and CEO of LED Dental and inventor of the VELscope system. “We created the VELscope system to improve the oral health of patients worldwide by helping dental practitioners discover everything from early-stage oral cancer to any number of more common oral abnormalities. This recognition from the World Health Organization is further reinforcement of what thousands of VELscope users have been telling us: that the VELscope system can help improve oral health in a very cost-effective and user-friendly manner.”
Oral cancer kills one American every hour of every day. According to the SEER database, oral cancer has a higher mortality rate than several better-publicized cancers, such as cervical cancer and testicular cancer. Some oral cancers are now known to be linked to exposure to the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV), which means that anyone who is sexually active is potentially at risk for the disease. Because of this, many health experts advise everyone 18 years old and older to get an oral cancer exam on at least an annual basis.
Regular exams can help address the fact that oral cancer is typically discovered in late stages, when the five-year survival rate is around 30 per cent. When discovered in early stages, however, the survival rate leaps to 80 to 90 per cent, according to SEER data. Early detection can help reduce not only the mortality rate, but the degree of invasiveness and disfigurement resulting from treatment.
The VELscope handpiece shines a safe, blue light into the oral cavity and excites natural tissue fluorescence. When viewed by the clinician through the handpiece’s patented filters, abnormal tissue typically appears as an irregular, dark area that stands out against the otherwise normal, green fluorescence pattern of surrounding healthy tissue.
The VELscope system is being used by almost 6,000 dental practices worldwide. Most of these practices conduct VELscope exams as part of their normal intra- and extra-oral head and neck exam, comprising palpation and visual inspection. The VELscope exam takes only two minutes and is comfortable, non-invasive and affordable for patients.
The VELscope system is the first cleared by the FDA and Health Canada to help clinicians detect oral mucosal abnormalities, including cancer and pre-cancer, that might not be apparent to the naked eye, and to help surgeons determine the appropriate surgical margins if excision is indicated.
(Edited by Fred Michmershuizen, DTA)