Vizilite is a simple and quick oral cancer screening that can be performed by your dental hygienist or dentist. I will use hygienist in the description of this screening since I am a hygienist and do all of these exams in my office.
The patient will swish with a vinegar based liquid which is raspberry flavor. It sort of tastes like raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing. After spitting out the rinse the hygienist will look at the soft tissues in the mouth using a special light wand. The room lights may be tuned down or off to aid in the procedure or the hygienist will wear blue light blocking glasses.
What the hygienist is looking for are areas that glow under the light wand. Abnormalities in the cells just below the surface cause this glowing. These glowing areas are areas of suspicion and will be tested further in the second step of the Vizilite oral cancer screening. If there are not any glowing areas the screening is finished. No glow = negative for oral cancer.
If glowing areas are present the test will proceed to part 2. This part of the test involves swabbing a dye onto the areas that glowed. This dye is called toluidine blue or t-blue for short. The dye process includes three swabs. They look like giant Q-tips.The first swab has the vinegar solution. This is applied to the areas that glowed. The second swab has the t-blue dye. It is swabbed on those same areas. Finally a third swab with vinegar solution is wiped over the dyed areas. If the dye wipes off the result is negative. If the dye does not wipe off with the final swab the area needs to be biopsied. The biopsy is not part of the screening. Patients will be scheduled for this procedure. Anything that is discovered during this screening is documented for the dentist or oral surgeon that will be doing the biopsy.
The entire Vizilite screening is pretty quick. It is an easy way to screen patients quickly and rule out lesions that are noncancerous and find early lesions before they become more advanced.
A yearly oral cancer screening is ideal. A visual exam may miss early stages of oral cancer. Once a cancerous lesion is observed it is usually fairly advanced. Ideally screening patients that are at higher risk for oral cancer consistently will catch cancer earlier and result in higher survival rates. The current survival rate for oral cancer is about 45% because most cases are caught so late, early detection increases the five-year survival rate from this 45% to 80-90%. Early detection means a better chance of survival.
Vizilite can easily be done at a routine dental hygiene appointment and the cost is under $100. Where I work it is only $69, but prices are not always the same at all dental offices.