Dentists Say Oral Cancer Screening is an Essential Role for Dentists

oral cancer foundation Dentists believe that oral cancer screening is an essential role for dentists. Our survey found that 96% of dentists consider oral cancer screenings to be an important part of their job.

“Oral cancer screening better be one of the services EVERY dentist should be offering on a regular basis. We do so at our office and have had a couple patients that have been officially diagnosed with oral cancer and before they saw us, they didn’t know they had it,” said one dentist.

Among survey respondents, 96% say oral cancer screenings are important; 4% offer screening, but believe other services they offer are more important; and 0% felt general dentists should not be performing oral cancer screenings for their dental patients.

Here’s a sample of what dentists had to say about oral cancer screening:

  • “My mom died from oral cancer and she was not in the risk groups. I make sure I tell all my patients that when I’m doing the oral cancer screenings every time I do an exam.” (New York dentist)
  • “I have found several. Unfortunately two were in late metastatic stages and the patients were terminal.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “I feel oral cancer screenings are important and we need more healthcare providers such as denturists, DHAT’s, CDHC’s, and independent practices for dental hygienists to work more on a public health level for those that can’t afford a trip to the dental office.” (Wyoming denturist)
  • “It should be done more often.” (Orthodontist)
  • “I do only visual; started by my hygienist and then confirmed by me with recommendations.” (Texas dentist)
  • “We have recently purchased the Velscope system because we understand the importance of advanced oral cancer screenings.” (Arizonia dentist)
  • “Whether using an adjunctive screening device, visual exam, or both, dentists need to be doing oral cancer screenings on a regular basis.” (General dentist)
  • “The incidence of oral cancers and HPV is increasing dramatically, and we need to do our part to change our patient’s awareness of this trend by screening our patients regularly.” (General dentist)
  • “A Velscope should be a required piece of equipment in every dental office. Ignorance is not Bliss!” (Oregon dentist)
  • “The question is ‘why aren’t all dentists and dental hygienists performing this life saving examination on all their patients?’ With the new technologies that are available . . .this exam should be mandatory!” (General dentist)

Read more: Dentists Firmly Believe in Oral Cancer Screening

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. For more information see the The Oral Cancer Foundation website.


About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.

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  • itfitz

    I’m a huge fan of oral cancer screenings — I do them on each patient during annual examinations.

    But there is no evidence-based reason to do this; current evidence does not support oral cancer screening, particularly in a young population like my patient base.

    See http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/3rduspstf/oralcan/oralcanrs.htm

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/oral/HealthProfessional

    “There is inadequate evidence to establish that screening would result in a decrease in mortality from oral cancer.

    Description of the Evidence

    · Study Design: Evidence obtained from one randomized controlled trial.
    · Internal Validity: Poor.
    · Consistency: Not applicable.
    · Magnitude of Effects on Health Outcomes: No evidence of benefit or harm.
    · External Validity: Poor.”

    Britain’s National Center for Clinical Excellence: http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/csghn_themanual.pdf

    “There is no national screening programme for any form of head and neck cancer and it is unlikely that such a programme will be established in the near future. Reasons for this include the following:

    First, although screening has been considered for oral cancer, this is relatively rare so the pick-up rate would be very low. Second, the natural history of these cancers is poorly understood. Finally – and crucially – there is no evidence to show that such screening would be beneficial for the population as a whole. More research is needed, particularly on screening members of high risk groups and opportunistic screening.”

    http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/dental/why_screening_works.htm

    “These studies revealed that from 1973 to 1997, there were 63,409 head and neck cancer patients in 9 SEER registries. Among this group of patients, 3339 individuals or 5.2%, were noted to be younger than 40 years of age.”

    There is a huge amount of research coming in which correlates oral cancer (especially pharyngeal and tonsillar carcinomas) with HPV, and this is of concern because of the high rate of HPV infection in younger people.

    Although the above evidence still cannot support screening, I’m not going to change my practice of doing this on an annual basis for every single patient. In 19 years of practice, I’ve found four cases of oral cancer and expect that I’ll find more. Let’s hope I’m wrong!

  • itfitz

    I forgot to add the link to the ADA article on this subject:

    http://jada.ada.org/cgi/content/full/141/5/509

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