Dental Assistants Play a Role in Cancer Detection
Dental assistants are valuable members of the dental team and can play a role in helping detect the possible deadly disease of oral cancer. While obtaining new or recall medical histories or just in casual conversations, a well informed dental assistant can pick up on possible warning signs that must be brought to the dentist's attention.
- An unusual white or dark spot on the tongue, oral mucosa and/or lip
- An ulcer or sore that doesn't heal within 2-3 weeks.
- Numbness in the lips or mouth
- An earache on one side that lasts for an unusual amount of time
- Difficulty or painful when swallowing or chewing
- A lump or swelling in the mouth or neck area
- A persistent cough, sore throat or hoarse voice
Researchers have discovered a link between oropharyngeal cancer and the human papiloma virus number 16 (HPV16). The HPV link is thought to be responsible for an increase in these cancers in otherwise healthy non-smokers ages 25 to 50. Other carcinogens such as tobacco and alcohol are also a contributing factor for oral cavity malignancies.
Additional information is available on Dentistry iQ.
Linda Kihs, CDA, EFDA, OMSA, MADAA