Dr. Kathleen Mullaney • DDS • FAGD

COVID 19 Protocol - Team Mullaney is fully vaccinated

What Is VELscope Oral Cancer Screening?

What Is VELscope Oral Cancer Screening?

The American Cancer Society estimates about 54,000 new cases of oral cancer occurred in 2023. It is more important than ever to stay informed and get screened. If caught early, oral cancers are very treatable and manageable. Using the VELscope, as described below, makes screenings easy and accurate.

Find out how the VELscope works and when you should get a screening for oral cancer.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a broad term that refers to any cancerous material found in or around the oral cavity. It can appear on:

  • The lips
  • The tongue
  • The floor of the mouth
  • The throat
  • The sinuses
  • The hard and soft palate


Oral Cancer Symptoms

Because “oral cancer” encapsulates so many different cancers, there are many different symptoms that can manifest. Some of the most common are:

  • Persistent sore throat
  • The feeling of something caught in the back of the throat
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Bleeding sores on the face, neck, or mouth that don’t heal in two weeks
  • Loss of feeling, pain, numbness in face, neck, or mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Lumps, bumps, or rough spots on the gums, lips, or mouth
  • Red, white, or speckled red and white patches in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, or swallowing
  • Changes in the way the teeth or dentures fit together

If one or more of these symptoms develop, visit your dentist for a screening as soon as possible.

What is the VELscope?

The VELscope was launched as an oral cancer screening system in 2006. It uses two major components: a ring light, which gives off a particular wavelength of blue light, and an eyepiece with a special filter. These two parts comprise the VELscope and contribute to the early detection of oral cancer. The VELscope helps locate potentially cancerous lesions that are invisible to the naked eye.

How Does the VELscope Work?

The specific blue light the VELscope emits, excites, and lights up molecules in the mouth called fluorophores. Fluorophores are present in normal, healthy oral tissues. When the light shines on your oral tissues, your healthy parts light up green. Anything abnormal is shown as a dark area surrounded by healthy green.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe?

Yes, the VELscope is safe. The handpiece doesn’t emit radiation. The only thing it does is emit blue light into the oral cavity.

How Often Should I Get an Oral Cancer Screening with the VELscope?

It’s recommended to get screened for oral cancer once a year.

Concerned About Your Dental Health? Contact Us!

Contact our Alexandria dental office or call 240-532-3335 if you have any concerns about your dental or oral health. Our experts will address your questions and provide guidance to ensure your oral health is where it needs to be.
Author Bio: Dr. Kathleen Mullaney offers general and cosmetic dentistry services in Alexandria, VA. She earned her doctorate in dental surgery from the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) and proudly served as a United States Navy dentist before opening her practice. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Mullaney is delighted to be one of Old Town’s most respected and sought-after dentists! Call 240-532-3335 to schedule an appointment.

Deal of the Day

* Includes necessary X-rays, Velscope Oral Cancer Screening and periodontal examination
(New Patients Only, excludes cleaning. Not billable to insurance)

Trusted in the Community

Had my first visit to Dr. Mullaney’s office this month since the pandemic and the experience was gold standard. The safety processes and clean office environment were impeccable. Dr. Mullaney and staff were, as usual, amazing. Every step was explained, the protective garments worn by staff were the best I have experienced. It was a safe and positive visit and I recommend making an appointment!!

I am a new patient. After my first dentist appointment with Dr. Mullaney, I left feeling very informed and in control of ultimately making decisions about the care and treatment I receive. The staff is incredibly kind and knowledgeable. I love that they participate in helping veterans through The Freedom Day USA program. They are committed to providing a very clean and friendly atmosphere. In addition this practice goes out of its way to bring comfort and the latest in dentistry to all their patients.

I never thought that a person could enjoy going to the dentist until I started seeing Dr. Mullaney. Her attractive and serene office and Dr. Mullaney and her competent and friendly staff make every visit a pleasure. They have a gift for making each experience smooth and efficient, with meticulous attention to the patient’s needs and comfort. On a scale of 1 to 10 this practice is a 15!

Dr. Mullaney and her staff are absolutely wonderful. They are very professional, personable and greet you by name when you walk in the door. Dr. Mullaney is very talented and really has perfected her craft. Even with a last-minute treatment change, she is unwavering in performing the highest quality treatment available. I am extremely grateful to you all for making my visit pleasant and even fun!