VELscope - Oral Cancer Screening System

Fluorescence Visualization Technology


The VELscope® System is a revolutionary hand-held device that provides dentists, hygienists, and other oral health care professionals with an easy-to-use adjunctive mucosal examination system for the early detection of abnormal tissue. The VELscope® System patented technology platform was developed by the British Columbia Cancer Agency in collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center, with funding provided in part by the NIH. It is based on the direct visualization of tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occur when abnormalities are present. The VELscope® System 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. The clinician is then able to immediately view the different fluorescence responses to help differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue. In fact, the VELscope® System is the only adjunctive device cleared by the FDA and Health Canada to help discover oral mucosal lesions that might not be apparent or visible to the naked eye and to help surgeons determine the appropriate surgical margin for tumor excision. Under examination with the VELscope® System, abnormal tissue typically appears as an irregular, dark area that stands out against the otherwise normal, green fluorescence pattern of surrounding healthy tissue.

Figure 1. VELscope examination. The clinician shines the blue excitation light into the patient's oral cavity and looks through the Handpiece.

Figure 2. Illustration of VELscopes principle of operation.

Figure 3. Representative examples of direct visualization under both white light and VELscope examination - photos courtesy of the British Columbia Oral Cancer Prevention Program.

No apparent lesion

Normal fluorescence pattern

Visible leukoplakia

Irregular, dark area visible under fluorescence visualization. Biopsy-confirmed severe dysplasia

No apparent lesion

Irregular, dark area visible under fluorescence visualization. Biopsy-confirmed Carcinoma in Situ (CIS)

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