Oral Cancer
Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, and pharynx (throat), can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.

The Forgotten Disease

Oral cancer is one of the few types of cancer that haven’t experienced a significantly reduced mortality rate in the past 30 years. In fact, the number of North Americans developing oral cancer is three times the number who develop cervical cancer. Sadly, one North American dies of oral cancer every hour of every day. The problem: Oral cancer is discovered in late stages about 70% of the time, and often that is simply too late.


  • The incidence of oral cancer increased 11% in the United States in 2007
  • Unlike several other cancers, the survival rate for oral cancer has remained unchanged for decades
  • The 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is 52%, but when discovered early, it increases to 80%-90%
  • Unfortunately, only 35% of oral cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages. Why? Because there have been few advances made in screening techniques and there are significant limitations inherent to white light and chemiluminescence light examination of the oral mucosa
  • Pre-malignant changes actually start below the surface, at the basement membrane. These changes may not be apparent to the naked eye until the disease progresses to the surface

The new VELscope Oral Cancer Screening System allows us to see things below the surface that we wouldn't normally see. This device will greatly aid in early detection of cancer and pre-cancer which could save lives.