Dr. Hamid Zehtab, a Lake Oswego dentist, checks out his new VELscope, which will be used to detect oral cancer in his patients.

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer, and the ailment can also be extremely aggressive.

Currently, high-quality detection devices for oral cancer are not very prevalent, but a local dentist has procured a revolutionary new machine and will be one of the first dentists in the state to make oral cancer screenings part of a routine visit.

Dr. Hamid Zehtab has operated in his Lake Oswego location for 10 years and prides himself on having top-of-the-line equipment.

'We have a lot of diagnostic tools in this office and focus on early detection so we can treat problems before they get worse,' Zehtab said.

After hearing about the VELscope and reading that it had been approved by the Food and Drug Administ-ration, he wanted to get in on the ground floor with the new technology.

'I do a lot of continuing education to keep up to date and when I ran across this it became clear that it wasn't just a gimmick,' Zehtab said.

The VELscope has only been on the market for about six months and Zehtab Dentistry received its machine shortly after that time. Since then, Zehtab and his staff have been training and he hopes to begin using the VELscope with patients in a matter of weeks.

'We will make it a part of our comprehensive dental exam. I think we owe it to our patients,' Zehtab said.

The procedure itself is very simple and non-evasive. The scope emits a band of excitation light through a filter. Healthy tissue will appear green while potentially cancerous tissue will show up as orange or red.

The most commonly affected areas from oral cancer tend to be the tongue and the floor of the mouth. Generally, smokers, heavy drinkers and tobacco users are at a much higher risk for being diagnosed with oral cancer. However, human papilloma, the same virus which causes cervical cancer in women, can also cause oral cancer, leading to more cases recently.

'It's something that a lot of dentists and physicians don't check for,' Zehtab said.

But with a growing number of individuals becoming affected by this form of cancer, Zehtab hopes that his office will be the first of many to start offering the procedure.

'Our philosophy is simply to find technology that gives help to our patients. In the future I think nearly every (dentist) office will have (a VELscope.)' Zehtab said.

Zehtab Family Dentistry is located at 470 Sixth St.. To contact the office, call 503-636-432 or visit

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