Casey Hein & Associates

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Empowering Physicians, Nurses, and Other Non-Dental Healthcare Providers in the Prevention and Early Detection of Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer

Written by Susan Muller, DMD, MS and Casey Hein BSDH, RDH, MBA

Suggested Audience: Dentists, dental hygienists

Oral cancer is the sixth-most common malignancy in the world. Statistics on the prognosis of oral and oropharyngeal cancer and survival rates provide a compelling rationale for enlisting non-dental healthcare providers in patient education and the prevention of oral cancer, and in the screening and referral of patients with suspicious lesions. This module provides information about oral and oropharyngeal cancer that is most relevant to non-dental healthcare providers, and offers recommendations for effectively and efficiently incorporating into everyday patient care disease-management strategies that help ensure the timely identification of precancerous and cancerous lesions of the oral cavity and oropharynx. The clinical presentation and the signs and symptoms of potentially premalignant lesions in the oral cavity and oropharynx will be discussed, as well as an overview of associated risk factors. The module concludes by offering important talking points to educate patients at risk for oral and oropharyngeal cancer, and step-by-step directions to assist non-dental healthcare providers in performing a head and neck examination.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to do the following:

  1. Discuss the incidence of oral and oropharyngeal cancer.
  2. Articulate the importance of early detection of oral and oropharyngeal cancer in overall survival rates, and obtaining a definitive diagnosis for oral lesions that persist for more than two weeks.
  3. Identify lesions within the mouth and other clinical findings that may be precursors to oral and oropharyngeal cancer.
  4. Identify the warning signs and symptoms of oral and oropharyngeal cancer.
  5. Identify the risk factors associated with oral and oropharyngeal cancer that may help isolate behaviours and/or environmental exposures that place patients at greater risk.
  6. Provide key information to educate at-risk patients about the prevention of oral and oropharyngeal cancer, and train patients how to perform an oral cancer self-examination.
  7. Perform a head and neck examination to screen patients for potentially premalignant and malignant lesions, and make timely referrals to appropriate HCPs of patients with suspicious lesions.

Collateral Materials & Supplemental Resources

Supplemental Resources for this course will be posted here if available.
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