Fluorescent light being used to detect cancer

June 24, 2011 4:59:33 PM PDT
There's a new way to find cancer -- at the dentist's office. It's called the "blue light" test and it tries to detect oral cancer.

When Larry Sams opens his mouth, a fluorescent blue light washes over it. Dr. Allen Stanton looks through a scope developed by M.D. Anderson, and the blue light has turned to green. Green fluorescent light is good, but not black.

"This little dark spot that's the area we're talking about," Dr. Stanton told him.

That spot could be an early cancer, or it could be nothing. Dr. Stanton will check the spot again in two weeks.

"It did make me think if there was something, that with early detection the rates are very good," Sams said.

Using the $35 blue light test, he's already found one oral cancer. After cancer treatment, he says his patient is now fine.

"It's easy, it's painless and it's just a good precautionary measure, even if you're not in a high-risk category," Dr. Stanton said.

Smoking, alcohol and the HPV virus increase the risk for oral cancer. The HPV virus also causes cervical cancer.

"It's really imperative this be checked and found early," he said.

India Jenkens isn't high-risk, but when she got the test, she was surprised by the results.

"There's a little spot back here," she said.

A careful look detects tiny dark spots in the green light. But Dr. Stanton doesn't think its cancer.

"More than likely, it's just a cheek bite. But it's always worth checking out," he said.

"It's pretty easy, it's painless and it's really good how you can see if there's something there," Jenkens said.

Now if there is something there, your dentist is likely to find it with the blue light test.

The blue light test costs $35. Dr. Stanton says it's more accurate than previous oral cancer tests done at the dental office because the scope finds early cancers that are deeper below the surface.


Load Comments