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Oral Cancer Screening by Dentist?
Old 11-11-2010, 10:24 AM   #1
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Oral Cancer Screening by Dentist?

I was at the dentist today getting my 6 month checkup and cleaning and they were trying to sell me a $58 cancer screening. It was described as spraying the inside of the mouth with an acidic liquid and then examining it with a special light. Supposedly early stage cancer could be detected this way.

Has anyone else investigated this?
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Old 11-11-2010, 10:50 AM   #2
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Our dentists have always done a visual inspection and feeling for lumps.

According to the National Cancer Institute spraying a dye to look for cancer AFTER lesions can be seen is an option.

Oral Cancer Screening - National Cancer Institute

Quote:
If lesions are seen in the mouth, the following procedures may be used to find abnormal tissue that might develop into oral cancer:
  • <LI class=Protocol-IL-Bullet>Toluidine blue stain: A procedure in which lesions in the mouth are coated with a blue dye. Areas that stain darker are more likely to be cancer or become cancer. <LI class=Protocol-IL-Bullet>Fluorescence staining: A procedure in which lesions in the mouth are viewed using a special light. After the patient uses a fluorescent mouth rinse, normal tissue looks different from abnormal tissue when seen under the light. <LI class=Protocol-IL-Bullet>Exfoliative cytology: A procedure to collect cells from the lip or oral cavity. A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the lips, tongue, mouth, or throat. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal.
  • Brush biopsy: The removal of cells using a brush that is designed to collect cells from all layers of a lesion. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal.
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Old 11-11-2010, 10:52 AM   #3
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I think if the dentist told me she suspected oral cancer, I would skip the dentist using that test and go right to my doctor. It would not give me peace of mind if the dentist's test was negative if there was other evidence.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:03 AM   #4
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My dental hygienist (and the dentist) both routinely do a visual check for oral cancer and feel along underneath my mandible twice a year when I go in for regular visits (I am going this afternoon for a cleaning). They ask about my general health and update any prescription drugs or supplements that I might be taking. They know I have never smoked. I think my dentist would be up on current things as he teaches one day a week at the Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, but he has not (yet) suggested anything like the spray you describe.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:09 AM   #5
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Well, I have a true life story of a Dentist finding Cancer in someone's mouth:

A guy I know worked at a Zoo in the Minneapolis area and went to the Dentist who examined his mouth during a regular check-up. The Dentist noticed what he saw was a sign of Cancer in the mouth with no extensive testing (he could see it), so the fellow went to his Dr. and sure enough his entire jaw was Cancerous. They had to operate extensively on this guy--and he was in his late 20's then! Yikes!
Anyway, he has gone on to live on disability, but still has a full and happy life now. With some magical work from a Plastic Surgeon, he looks normal, too. I guess they got it all cause he's been Cancer free for 10 years now.
So, it does happen that a Dentist recognizes Cancer in someone's mouth. I, personally, have had a Dentist make a point to me that he was looking for a sign of Cancer (thank heaven nothing was ever found).
The fellow thinks that the strong chemicals they use to wash the urine and feces out of the animal's cages at the zoo is what caused his Cancer, because there has been too high an incidence of his fellow workers at the zoo having Cancer as the years have rolled by.
Guess the moral of this story is to make sure your Dentist checks your mouth for Cancer (I've never heard of a Dentist trying to sell you this check-up), and don't be the guy who washes the urine and feces out of zoo cages.

(Is it just me? I thought all Dentists checked for Cancer in your mouth visually as routine. Any Dentists here to answer that one?)
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:36 AM   #6
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I first heard about it when I was sitting in the chair... and so I popped for the $60.... (but, I do not like being surprised so I was a bit upset)

Afterwards, I looked it up and found that having mouth cancer is not a big risk for someone who does not smoke, chew tobacco, etc. etc... IOW, the risks factors are pretty well known and this test is not needed if you do not have any of these factors...

From what others have said, it seems that a normal inspection by the dentist is all that is needed...

I don't regret paying for the test, but I think that it is something I am not going to do again any time soon...
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travelover View Post
Has anyone else investigated this?
No. My dentist does the visual/poking check every six months.

However, there may be other reasons for this "expanded testing":

1. Profit ...

2. Avoid legal troubles if something is actually found (later on, by another method/doctor). You never know...

Just my thoughts...
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:45 AM   #8
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A suspicious (I think discolored) area was once found in my mouth during a dental exam. This was years ago but they didn't offer some extra screening test, they referred me to an oral surgeon who removed & biopsied the spot. It was just a spot. But I had my regular dental exam/cleaning yesterday and I think the "look under tongue, feel around jaw" part was omitted. oops
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:32 PM   #9
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About 15 years ago my dentist(new at the time) said I had some discoloration in the back of my mouth. He suggested an oral surgeon. Well I didn't have dental insurance at the time, but had health insurance and a doctor I liked. My doctor examined me and gave me a clean bill of health.

The eye guy has a new deal a photo of the back of your eye for a couple of bucks, no thanks.
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:32 PM   #10
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It sounds like the ViziLite screening. ViziLite
Oral cancer is a sneaky one. My father who has no contributing factors (smoking, drinking, family history) ended up with large B-cell lymphoma of the tongue. He is OK five years later after radiation and chemo therapy. Cancer is an equal opportunity beast. Make sure you are getting a thorough oral cancer screening at least annually. If you feel the need to get the vizilite exam it couldn't hurt, but it might not help either.
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Old 11-14-2010, 09:42 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by travelover View Post
It was described as spraying the inside of the mouth with an acidic liquid and then examining it with a special light.
I remember when dentists used to call this "tooth whitening"... haven't heard them pushing that much lately, either.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:49 AM   #12
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I remember when dentists used to call this "tooth whitening"... haven't heard them pushing that much lately, either.
Exactly, thus my query as to whether this is a cost effective screening or another way to line his pocket. In the past, he has pushed cosmetic dentistry and his personality is more business than otherwise.
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