Newsletter | “Sooner than Later” – Dentistry does save LIVES! Part 2

August 4, 2018by Lisa Philp

Guest Column
Karina Bapoo-Mohamed
TGNA Clinical Coach – Hygiene

The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma & melanoma[i].

  • In North America one person dies every 52 minutes of melanoma[ii].
  • 1 in 73 women and 1 in 59 men will develop melanoma[iii]

If caught early 95% of skin cancers are curable![iv]

So why not do routine head and neck exams for all patients?

The key to successful outcomes is engaging the patient as a partner!

According to Miriam Webster Dictionary, partnership is defined as:

a relationship that strives for balance, equality and mutual respect, and in which information, power and responsibility are shared….”

How do you engage the patient as a partner?

Ask:a permission statement to obtain patient consent for the examination.

Sample script:“Mr/Mrs. _______, is it okay if I perform a head and neck examination today as part of your dental hygiene appointment?”

Educate:explain rationale for exam, what to expect, importance as it relates to them and their risk factors.

Sample script:“The reason for checking today is to evaluate for head and neck cancers, any lumps or bumps that haven’t gone away, to evaluate your thyroid, and to perform an oral cancer screening.”

Involve:ask patient to contribute to their history or information pertaining to changes in lesion(s).

Sample script:“Have you noticed this  ________, how long has it been there, any changes in shape or size, any pain or discomfort with it?”

Empower:share current clinical findings, compare to normal or previous assessments if available, show them follow-up techniques for monitoring. 

Refer, review, re-book:assist patients by referring them for early intervention, especially in the unsure cases. Better to err on the side of caution than the opposite.

By looking out for the patients’ best interest and needs, we can be true advocates for their health and well being by guiding patients to set goals and take responsibility for their oral and overall health.

Come learn more about assessment, documentation and referral criteria at the next TGNAworkshopso you too can SAVE LIVES!


[i]Canadian Dermatology Association: Skin Cancer. [cited 2016, November 23]. Available from:

[ii]Skin Cancer Foundation: Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics. 2016 [cited 2016, December 19]. Available from

[iii]Government of Canada: Health Canada {Internet}. Canada: Skin Cancer:2014. [cited 2017, April 17] Available from:

[iv]Alberta Health Services: The Big Burn: Skin Cancer: Incidence and Mortality. 2015.[cited 2016, November 23]. Available from:

Lisa Philp