Study Suggests VELscope System Helps Reduce Recurrence of Oral Cancer

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A high percentage of oral cancer patients experience a recurrence of the disease following surgery. The VELscope system uses fluorescence visualization technology to allow doctors to see cancerous and precancerous tissue that is beneath the surface and invisible to the naked eye. A new study tracking oral cancer patients indicated that none of the patients whose surgeons used the VELscope to determine which tissue to remove has experienced a recurrence of the disease. In contrast, 32% of the patients whose surgeon did not use the VELscope have experienced a recurrence of cancer or severe dysplasia.

Tracing the 'At-Risk' Oral Mucosa Field with Autofluorescence: Steps Toward Clinical Impact

LED Dental Inc. announced today that a recent study suggests that its VELscope screening system ( can help surgeons reduce the recurrence rate for oral cancer following surgery.

The article, "Tracing the 'At-Risk' Oral Mucosa Field with Autofluorescence: Steps Toward Clinical Impact," was just published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. It was authored by Catherine F. Poh, Calum E. MacAulay and Miriam Rosin of the BC Cancer Agency and Lewei Zhang of the University of British Columbia. The study was prompted by numerous previous studies showing that oral cancer recurs in a significant percentage of patients following oral cancer surgery.

The study examined the experience of 60 oral cancer surgery patients between 2004 and 2008. Their cancerous lesions were treated with surgical excision alone, with a minimum follow-up time of 12 months. For 38 of the 60 patients, the surgeon used a surgical margin that was 10 mm beyond the tumor edge defined by the VELscope exam. Because the VELscope system utilizes fluorescence visualization, or FV, technology, these patients are described in the article as having had FV-guided surgery. The remaining 22 patients--the control group--did not have FV-guided surgery; instead, the surgeon used a surgical margin that was 10 mm beyond the tumor edge defined by the standard white-light exam. White light exams rely on visual inspection with the naked eye, whereas the VELscope system allows clinicians to discover cancerous and precancerous tissue that might not be apparent to the naked eye.

Four years into the study, severe dysplasia or more serious tumors have recurred in 7, or 32%, of the 22 control group patients. In contrast, none of the 38 FV-guided group patients has suffered a recurrence of severe dysplasia or more serious tumors, including cancer.

"The VELscope system is the first adjunctive device cleared by both the FDA and Health Canada to help surgeons determine the appropriate surgical margin," said Ralph Green, D.D.S., M.B.A., president and CEO of LED Dental's parent, LED Medical Diagnostics. "While the findings of this study are not surprising, it is nonetheless gratifying to have these respected researchers report that absolutely zero of the 38 oral cancer patients whose surgical margins were determined using the VELscope system has experienced a recurrence of this deadly and disfiguring disease." Dr. Green added, "Numerous other studies, as well as extensive feedback from our users, have documented the ability of the VELscope system to help dental practitioners discover cancerous and precancerous lesions that otherwise would have been missed. This new study suggests that in addition to enhancing the detection of oral cancer, the VELscope system can help ensure that all targeted diseased tissue is removed when surgical excision is indicated."

Oral cancer claims the life of one North American every hour of every day. Despite the reduction in the use of tobacco products, it is one of the few types of cancer that has not experienced a significant reduction in the number of victims over the past several decades. Recent studies suggest that the reason is a link between oral cancer and the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus, or HPV. As a result, many health experts recommend that all adults receive oral cancer examinations on at least an annual basis.

Introduced to the dental market approximately three years ago, the VELscope system is already used for more oral cancer examinations than any other adjunctive technology in the world. Since its introduction, over 4,500 systems have been sold worldwide, and over 4.5 million VELscope examinations have been conducted. LED Dental estimates that over 3 million examinations, which are completely non-invasive and take only 2-to-3 minutes, will be conducted in 2009 alone.

The tissue fluorescence visualization technology platform on which the VELscope system is based is the culmination of over $50 million in research funded by the National Institutes of Health and other respected institutions and conducted by such leading organizations as the BC Cancer Agency and the University of Texas's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The VELscope system also helps clinicians discover non-cancerous types of oral mucosal abnormalities.

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John Pohl
LED Dental


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