Do The Light Devices Enhance Oral Cancer Screenings?

A young dad on the train told me his dentist asked if he wanted ‘an advanced screening.’ The young man agreed to the $50 charge. I asked if his dentist pulled his tongue out to the point it was a little uncomfortable. I asked if his neck was palpated. His answer to both was ‘no’.

His dentist replaced the visual and tactile oral cancer screening with an adjunct device. Also, his dentist sprung it on him while he was sitting in the chair. He did not hear or read anything about it beforehand. If a patient is tight on money and declines, they may feel bad, embarrassed, uncomfortable, put on the spot…and that is no way to develop a relationship and loyalty with patients.

This is what you need to know about adjunct devices (VELScope, Indentafi, OralID) for screening:

Auto-flouresence light

  • The auto-flouresence light shows abnormal blood flow below the surface as dark. Pizza burns and cheek bites will look dark under this light so there is a wide margin to make a mistake and cause undue fear.
  • An adjunct device should never replace a visual and tactile screening. Studies show the most effective oral cancer screening is looking inside the mouth (floor of mouth, cheeks, lips, tongue, and back of throat) and palpating around the same areas as well as the neck.
  • If it isn’t used frequently, the provider will not be proficient. I there is an additional charge, it is likely the device isn’t being used often enough for the provider to be accurate.
  • It can be very helpful to determine where to biopsy if there is an area with abnormal tissue in your mouth.

What are your thoughts and/or experiences?

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