Author: Diane Strandberg

A Port Coquitlam dentist is offering to do more than fix cavities and polish teeth. Dr. Glenn Keryluk wants to save a life.

He’s purchased an oral cancer screening device he expects will shortly become standard equipment in all dentist offices and he is offering to screen patients referred to by local doctors.

“It’s the latest and greatest in cancer detection,” Keryluk says of the Velscope, a hand-held device that shines a blue light on oral lesions that could be cancerous.

Manufactured by a White Rock-based company, the Velscope can show abnormal tissue below the surface, even before it becomes apparent to the clinicians’ eye. Healthy tissue glows green under the light but cancerous tissue looks black. Being able to detect oral cancer early is key to surviving the disease because the longer the cancer is around the more likely it will spread to nearby organs.

Keryluk held a free screening day for patients at his office at 2099 Lougheed Highway recently and is cutting standard fees for the procedure or waving them entirely for people without dental coverage. The procedure is painless, takes only a few minutes and a photograph of the lesion taken by the machine can be sent to a physician for follow-up.

“If you catch it early it could be that a person’s life is saved. I just want people to be aware of the technology out there,” Keryluk said.

He’s only seen two cases of oral cancer in 20 years as a dentist but the Velscope may increase his chances of spotting the disease.

Oral cancer is more common in men than women and age, tobacco use and heavy drinking are risks. But Keryluk said younger people have been diagnosed with oral cancer and the disease is on the rise. Human papillomavirus associated with cervical cancer has also been linked to oral cancer so it’s not just a disease of older people who drink and smoke.

“The day I save somebody’s life for early detection, I’ll give you a call,” Keryluk said.

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