Mortality rates associated with oral cancer have remained unchanged for over 30 years, partly due to the limitations of white light examination of the oral mucosa.
This has created a dire need for an improved oral mucosal screening procedure that would make it possible for clinicians to accurately identify tissue changes at and below the surface before they become apparent under white light examination.
In response to such a need, the Vancouver-based company LED Medical Diagnostics (LED-MD) has developed the VELscope System in partnership with the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA).
It is based on the direct visualisation of tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occur when abnormalities are present.
The VELscope handpiece emits a safe blue light into the oral cavity, which excites the tissue from the surface of the epithelium through to the basement membrane and into the stroma beneath, causing it to fluoresce.
A clinician is then able to immediately view the different fluorescence responses to help differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue.
Typically, healthy tissue appears as a bright apple-green glow while suspicious regions are identified by a loss of fluorescence, which thus appear dark.
VELscope is currently manufactured by LED Dental, a wholly owned subsidiary of LED-MD.