Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Oral Cancer Can Take You Down!

Cliff’s Notes for August 16, 2015

Cliff Marsh, Henry Schein ……Cell: 201-321-7494……Fax: 201-262-2210


“Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm.”



  There are so many thing hanging there right in front of us but in many cases we choose not to pick the low hanging fruit. The fight against Oral Cancer is one of them. It is a very winnable fight as long as the front-line troops are willing to engage the enemy.

Close to 45,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,650 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 45,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%) This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades.

Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. Today, that statement is still true, as there is not a comprehensive program in the US to opportunistically screen for the disease, and without that; late stage discovery is more common.

Now let’s talk about that comprehensive program. The ADA estimates that 1 out of every 91 people will experience some form of oral lesion sometime during their life time. That means that the average practice that sees 15 patients per day has one patient every week that will develop some type of concern. Think about it, 48 patients per year that may need to deal with an oral cancer diagnosis. And, you know what, you can be held liable for missing the early stage diagnostic markers.

Now is also the time to be a little selfish. You need to consider your risk in a missed diagnosis or the more common, late diagnosis. In a court of law your counsel will argue that you followed all ADA guidelines and the plaintiff’s counsel will ask why you choose to not utilize the new technologies? Be ready with a good answer and ADA recommendations will not matter.

On the other side, Mr. Jones, a 55 year old father of 2 that has been smoking for 20 years before quitting and likes to have a drink or 2 every night just sat down in your chair. What are your responsibilities to him? What are your responsibilities to his family? If it is just the health of his teeth and gums then your missing the point. By not engaging in the new diagnostics, you just put a value on your patient’s life of about $2500.00. As I said, be ready with a good answer for everyone including yourself.

As part of the preventive instructions your team gives your patients, they should be including Oral Cancer awareness. Screening tests and devices are very effective and become a great internal marketing tool.

If you wish to discuss all the available options and opportunities, please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.

Total Health

August 16, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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