Using the Word ‘Cancer’ During the Extra/Intra Oral Screening

Hi Eva,
I have a question for you! Since seeing you speak at RDH Under One Roof in 2013, I’ve been faithful about providing the Six-Step Screening to patients. They really appreciate my ‘new and improved’ screening process thanks to YOU. Last Monday, a gentlemen said to me: “Why do you have to say ‘Oral Cancer Screening’? Cancer is a BAD word that you should never ever say to a patient!!”

How would you handle this? It made me mad and then made me kind of sad! I have been really proactive about looking for suspicious lesions and then I get this!? Help please!
Sincerely, Jen Collins, Chico CA

Dear Jen,
Here is the script I would use for your patient: “You are right, the word ‘cancer’ is a ‘bad’ word but to provide the best possible care to my patients, not only must I perform a thorough screening but it’s also my obligation to educate you about what I’m doing and looking for. Everyone is at risk for oral cancer. Most people don’t know that you can get cancer in your mouth. Also, I want you to know that I’m providing a service that you probably don’t get at your medical check-up. If you don’t know what I’m doing, you won’t ask me questions. Education has to go hand-in-hand with the screening so we can catch this disease in it’s early stages when it’s very survivable. ”

Is this script too long for you? Please let me know if you try and and how it works!

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Comments 3

  1. Thanks Eva, I figured you would have a great script that I will be able to use. This is the first person that has not appreciated the service I am giving. Thank you for writing me back, I feel confident in explaining why I’m doing this important screening.
    🙂 Jen

    1. Post

      Jen, We all know exactly what a breast exam at a gynecology office is looking for. We all know what a prostate exam at a urology office is looking for. We all know what a skin exam at a dermatology office is looking for. However, most people DO NOT KNOW what an oral cancer screening is or what dental professionals are looking for. Until awareness is raised and the general public knows about the possibility of getting cancer in the mouth, we MUST use the words. We MUST raise awareness. It’s the responsibility of the dental profession to do this. Thank you for being proactive and providing the best care to your patients! We need more providers out there like you!

  2. I’ve had most people thanking me for doing the Oral Cancer Screen! They say, wow nobody has ever done this before. I’m so glad I got the privilege to sit on on your presentation and meet you. Every time I do my screening, I think of you! :). Jen

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