By Susan Braden
A little blue liquid and a State Fair favorite could be the latest breakthrough in early cancer detection, KVAL News reports. A dentist in Eugene-Springfield, Oregon, says that though a glow-stick oral cancer exam may be a brand-new innovation, some dental insurance companies may still cover it. The ViziLite screening, developed by Zila Pharmaceuticals, is not widespread yet, but Dr. Linda Bullock says she hopes that it will soon help people around the country.
By the end of this year, the American Cancer Society projects that approximately 35,000 Americans will have been diagnosed with oral cancer. This screening method is intended to catch the cancer in its earliest stage, so the patient can receive the most thorough treatment possible.
Before this type of examination, the patient swishes a liquid in a manner similar to swishing mouth wash. The dentist then looks through blue goggles at the inside of the patient’s mouth for irregularities particularly on or under the tongue, the most common place to find oral cancer. Using a glow-stick, the dentist will search for white spots that could indicate a cancerous area. If the dentist sees something that looks unusual, he or she will follow up with a blue dye test. If the dye shows up more prominently on the spot in question, the dentist will then refer the patient to a surgeon for a biopsy.
The world of dentistry has not entirely agreed on the helpfulness of this exam, however. The American Dental Association does not see the advantage of this screening as opposed to conventional methods. However, Dr. Bullock claims that in her office, oral cancer was detected early in three patients through the exam. "I think that it allows me to pay more careful attention to do a more complete examination," Dr. Bullock says.
She says that some insurance companies may cover the exam, which costs $60 at her office. Regardless of the method, however, each person should have his or her mouth checked regularly for signs of potentially cancerous abnormalities.