Following a successful pilot and first ever oral cancer screening in pharmacy in 2015, London Drugs is committed to bringing the clinics to more locations and will be offering oral health screening clinics at 15 locations in Metro Vancouver between April 25 and May 18, 2016.
“What began as a three clinic trial with a dental professional in collaboration with our pharmacists in April 2015, quickly grew to 12 clinics in a matter of weeks, during our first ever attempt at this program,” explains John Tse, Vice President Pharmacy, London Drugs. “There is clearly demand for the oral screening and continued need for awareness of oral cancer and oral cancer prevention.”
Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world with approximately three people dying of oral cancer every day in Canada. Early detection is crucial. Most oral cancers are diagnosed late when the survival rate is poor.
“Easy, accessible, affordable access to oral cancer screening is a major step toward early detection and recommended follow up testing with a dentist when necessary,” says Tse.
The BC Oral Cancer Prevention Program, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC and the College of Dental Hygienists of BC have provided enthusiastic feedback and support of the collaboration between London Drugs pharmacy and the dental professionals who will be administering the oral cancer screening.
Conducting the screenings is Registered Dental Hygienist Stacey Rhodes-Nesset. Rhodes-Nesset holds positions as a Clinical Instructor in the Dental Hygiene Degree Program, Department of Oral Biological and Medical Sciences Faculty of Dentistry, UBC; and is a Clinical Dental Hygienist with the Dentistry-Oral Oncology Department. Rhodes-Nesset will be accompanied by accomplished dentist, Dr. Ken Neuman, member of the UBC Faculty of Dentistry and listed as one of the top 100 influential dental educators in North America.
“London Drugs’ clinics bring incredible awareness to oral cancer screening and the importance of early detection,” says Dr. Ken Neuman. “The best way to monitor your oral health is to work with your dental care provider either at the dental office or at a screening clinic such as the one offered at London Drugs. This program is especially popular among individuals who might not regularly visit a dentist.”
Awareness required for more than just tobacco users – also those with other substance inhalers and other chewing and smoking behaviours.
With smoking being a major cause of oral cancer, the screening program is a significant opportunity for London Drugs to continue to target and bring awareness to tobacco users and is an important component of London Drugs’ overall smoking cessation program. And it’s not just tobacco users that need to be concerned.
The Canadian Cancer Society statistics indicate approximately 4,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year and many more will be diagnosed with dysplasia (pre-cancer). The risk of oral cancer is about 5 to 10 times greater among smokers than non-smokers and this risk is further increased for those who drink alcohol.
Screening Clinic Process
During the screening clinic, dental professionals will conduct a simple head and neck exam and an intra-oral assessment using the the VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System to help detect for oral tissue abnormalities. Using a blue-spectrum light to fluoresce the oral mucosa and detect any tissues that aren’t apparent or not visible to the naked eye, the VELscope® will aid in the early identification of lesions potentially at risk for oral pre-cancer. Patients who enroll in the oral health screening clinic are asked to fill out an evaluation form that asks questions about tobacco use and other pertinent questions. An evaluation summary will be provided to the patient once the screening is completed and patients with atypical issues will be recommended to visit Next Gen Oral Prevention and Screening Community Clinic.