No screening device can replace a visual and tactile oral cancer screening. However, when a practice has a screening device, they must use it regularly to be proficient. If a fee is charged, and it’s sprung on the patient while they are sitting in the chair, it becomes uncomfortable, especially if the patient has a tight budget. If a dental practice has an in-office device, it means the practice values the best screening practices possible. Hence, use it on all patients. The charge (hopefully minimal) should be absorbed in the cost of a visit and performed on each and every patient when deemed appropriate. Certainly that should include all patients who use (or have used) tobacco products.
The extra-oral screening must be included now that we know about HPV and it’s association with oropharyngeal cancers. Ask the questions: Difficulty swallowing? Does anything feel like it’s caught in your throat? Any one-sided pain? Any unusual lumps, bumps?
Studies show that people who have certain proteins are at higher risk for oral cancer. There is new technology to identify who may be at risk for oral cancer through saliva testing and/or stem cell-associated biomarkers. Dentistry Today posted an article last week on this subject written by the Chief Scientific Officer of one of the companies. If you want to understand the science behind the product, ask an oral pathologist.
Bottom line: the visual and tactile screening is the gold standard and required at ever dental check-up according to the American Dental Association. Keep up the standard of care for screenings and save lives!