With the large number of teenagers using tobacco these days it should come as no surprise that the number of oral cancers is on the rise. This increase is most dramatic in young adult males using smokeless tobacco products. The risk factors for developing mouth and oral cancers are well known and include use of alcohol and tobacco, as well as the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
It can be a challenge to determine who has early oral cancer so that appropriate medical treatment can be started and the cancer arrested in its earliest stages. Obviously good oral hygiene and seeing a dentist yearly will go a long way towards insuring that an oral or mouth cancer will be detected soon enough to result in a good prognosis. Unfortunately early oral or mouth cancers can be difficult even for medical professions to diagnose.
Enter the ViziLite Plus detection system. Originally developed to help screen for cervical cancer in women ViziLite Plus has received FDA approval for identifying and monitoring oral mucosal abnormalities in patients at increased risk for oral or mouth cancers. The system is painless, quick and very low-tech. Many dentists and even some dental hygienists are able to use this screening test during a routine office visit.
The ViziLite Plus test kit includes a vinegar oral rinse solution, light stick and a toluidine blue dye marking kit. The patient first rinses their mouth with the vinegar solution. The light stick is then activated by breaking the inner capsule.
The activated ingredients in the stick mix and begin to glow which almost resembles the black lights that cause fluorescent posters to glow. The light stick is then inserted into the patient’s open mouth by the examiner.
Areas of normal mouth tissue appear blue; however, areas suspicious for early mouth and oral cancers appear white. These suspicious white areas are swabbed with the toluidine blue marking dye that makes them visible with ordinary incandescent light. Once these areas have been identified the patient can be referred for a tissue biopsy to determine if any oral cancer is present.
The ViziLite Plus test kit appears to be a useful screening tool for individuals at higher risk for oral or mouth cancers. By making suspicious areas of mouth tissue more visible to the eye, more cases of oral cancers may be diagnosed at an earlier stage.
There is no evidence; however, that the general healthy population would benefit from using this test kit as the absolute risk of oral cancers is low and the cost of screening the entire population too expensive. If you do use tobacco of any type and drink alcohol you might want to ask your dentist if you would be a candidate for the ViziLight oral cancer screening kit. It could save your life.