Video: Medford dentist testing revolutionary cancer screening

Rob Barry

Employing cutting-edge oral cancer screening technology, one Medford dentist hopes to catch certain cancers earlier and easier than was previously possible. With the use of the VELscope system, checking for oral cancer is non-invasive and takes only moments.

“The name of the game with any kind of cancer is to pick things up early,” said Dr. Anthony Giamberardino, DMD, who began using VELscope earlier this year.

The device uses a specific wavelength of light that penetrates the skin tissue inside a patient’s mouth. Cancerous growths will appear dark compared to the surrounding healthy tissue. It is practically as easy as using a flashlight.

“It’s just sort of catching on now,” said Giamberardino. “I think we’re one of the few in the area that has it.”

The traditional method of checking for oral cancer, Giamberardino said, involves a visual exam of the surface of the mouth for certain signs. But, he said, if the cancer has broken the surface the chance of it being more widespread is higher.

Some newer screening methods include a rinse that dyes the skin on the inside of the mouth. VELscope, however, requires no rinses or dyes.

Giamberardino said a checkup costs only $20 and a number of insurance companies have granted it coverage. He recommends anyone with a history of smoking get yearly screenings. Since the surgery involved in oral cancer can be quite radical, catching it as early as possible is a must.

“It’s a relatively compact unit,” said Giamberardino. “I’m sure, before long, this will become state-of-the-art.”