The Mouth Cancer Foundation recommends all dental practices and individual dental professionals carry out a thorough head and neck cancer screening on all practice patients at least once a year at routine appointments. Early diagnosis is the key to ensuring patients have the best possible outcome.
The charity encourages all dental practices to carry out a thorough head and neck cancer screening of their patients. The charity views this as a whole team approach so all members of the practice team are familiar with the signs and symptoms to look out for. In addition a constant effort is required to demonstrate a visible commitment to increasing public awareness of mouth cancer.
It takes less than 2 minutes to carry out a comprehensive mouth cancer screening and every dental practice should be doing this.
The Mouth Cancer Foundation has developed a simple Mouth Cancer Screening protocol to ensure that dentists are able to standardise the process for all patients over the age of 16 years.
This examination can be carried out in the dental chair using gloved hands, a mirror and good lighting. Before the examination, communicate to your patient what you are doing and looking for. The time after the examination is ideal for giving appropriate advice to those at risk.
Ask denture wearing patients to remove them at this stage.
This systematic screening should be carried out by dental practitioners on every patient at each routine check up.
It takes just two minutes to carry out a full head and neck cancer screening. See how easily it can be done in this demonstration by Dentist and Mouth Cancer Foundation Ambassador Dr Philip Lewis.
Some practices may choose to screen patients with an adjunctive tool. If this is the case please specify which one it is. The practice should describe indications for its use and each clinician must demonstrate evidence that they have been trained in the use of the adjunctive screening technique of choice that will be used to further secure their patient’s oral health.
The visual and tactical examination remains the internationally accepted gold standard examination for any mouth cancer examination. Examples of adjunctive screening tools are as follows:
The Oral CDx is a tool which is a specialised brush that samples just a few layers of epithelium, stopping at the basement membrane. The sample is sent to a laboratory where an oral cytopathology specialist analyses it to distinguish abnormal tissue from normal. The brush test is quick and painless and is commonly used to test white and red oral spots for dysplasia changes. (https://www.cdxdiagnostics.com/oralcdx)
Vizilite Plus is an advanced biophotonic light technology and TBlue630, a toluidine dye marking system Used together these tools are effective as an adjunct for use in high risk populations and suspicious mucosal lesions. (https://www.denmat.com/)
The VELscope system emits a safe, visible blue light which excites mucosal tissue and causes it to fluoresce. The clinician can examine the soft tissues and identify suspicious lesions. Typically, healthy tissue shows up as a bright green light while suspicious lesions cause a lack of fluorescence and appear dark in colour. (https://apteryx.com/velscope/)
The deep penetrating light of the hand-held Identafi tool is designed to enhance diagnostic efficacy for oral cancer. It uses multi-spectral fluorescence and reflectance technology to enhance visualisation of mucosal abnormalities such as dysplasia and premalignant lesions. Identafi uses 3 distinct colour wavelengths to make lesion morphology and vasculature easier to distinguish. (www.dentalez.com)
This system is a three-in-one, hand-held, battery powered device that uses an LED light source and three unique, interchangeable diagnostic instruments. This tool uses a mild acetic acid mouth rinse to improve the visualisation of oral tissues. (www.orascoptic.com)
Goccles help to see oral cavity anomalies. The practitioner wears the eyewear which accentuates the appearance of mucosal changes. (www.goccles.com)
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