Make oral cancer exams a priority

Aug. 1, 2008
Editor's Note: Dr. Malcmacher is the owner of a new Web site, A fee is required for dentists to enroll.

by Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: ViziLite Plus, oral cancer,, VELscope, OralCDX,

Editor's Note: Dr. Malcmacher is the owner of a new Web site, A fee is required for dentists to enroll.

Oral cancer. These are two words that every dentist hopes he or she will never have to say to a patient. Oral cancer kills one American every hour of every single day. There have even been a number of famous people that have become victims of oral cancer. They include Babe Ruth, Sigmund Freud, Bill Blass, and Jack Klugman. As dental professionals, we know that when a lesion is found in the mouth that may be squamous cell carcinoma, there is a 50% to 70% chance that the patient may not live past the next five years.

When you look at other cancer awareness programs, some organizations have done an outstanding job at creating a very high awareness for certain types of cancer. Every woman knows how to do a breast cancer self-exam and have routine mammograms, and everyone over the age of 50 knows it's time for a colonoscopy. These types of self-exams and screenings have helped save many lives.

An established self-exam for oral cancer would be a huge help in finding abnormalities or incipient oral cancer lesions early. This kind of self-exam, much like a breast or skin exam, is easy to do, does not require any special equipment, and will help familiarize people with their own mouths. The primary benefit is early detection of any unusual lesions in the patients' mouths, and the secondary benefit is consumers becoming more familiar with their mouths, which encourages them to receive treatment for oral health issues they would usually ignore.

A brand new Web site has been developed that shows people how to do an oral cancer self-exam. Because so many American consumers still do not have a regular dentist, the Web site also has a find-a-dentist section. Dentists who are committed to oral cancer exams and early detection of oral cancer can sign up to be listed on this Web site at

By the way, the number one finding of a recent dental patient survey conducted by the Crown Council was patients saying, "Tell us more about oral cancer." CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently did a story on oral cancer. Consumers are ready to get more involved with learning more about their mouths, and they certainly want to be involved with oral cancer prevention.

I strongly urge all those who attend my courses to use some type of oral cancer screening device, whether ViziLite Plus or VELscope. Those who know me know that ViziLite Plus has been the choice in my office for a number of years because of its cost effectiveness, ease of use, and TBlue stain that comes with the kit. The TBlue staining system is an essential piece of the screening if anything is found, and no other system has this. ViziLite Plus will help screen your patients and help you find suspicious lesions much earlier than you normally would. After this exam, either a brush biopsy such as OralCDx or a traditional biopsy should be used on the lesion for either histological examination or total removal.

Getting patients on board to fight this dreaded disease is crucial and long overdue, and dentists should institute early detection screening as soon as possible. Patients are looking for dentists who take oral cancer seriously. Let's all work together because if we as the dental profession don't take this lead, no one will. It is completely up to us. Show your patients how committed you are to detecting and treating oral cancer. Go to and sign up to be listed on this Web site today!

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is a practicing general dentist in Bay Village, Ohio, and an internationally known lecturer, author, and dental consultant known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for CRA, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. Contact Dr. Malcmacher at (440) 892-1810 or via e-mail at [email protected]. His lecture schedule and other information may be found at

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