Early detection is key


  Posted by: Dental Design      24th November 2023

Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, with an estimated 8,300 cases diagnosed each year in the UK.[i] A missed diagnosis of oral cancer can have a massive impact on the lives of patients. The nature of the condition means that it’s more likely than other types of cancer to progress into later stages without being noticed.

Signs of oral cancer might include ulcers, white patches, red patches, lumps in the lip, mouth, or neck, and unexplained pain.i Early symptoms are prone to misdiagnosis, often mistaken for other conditions such as oral abscesses, paraesthesia, and trauma.[ii] Currently, over 70% of cases are diagnosed at stage III or stage IV, with 5-year survival rates at less than 50%. As such, early detection is essential. When oral cancer is detected at stages I and II, 5-year survival rates improve to around 90%.i

Prevention and catching cancer early

When carrying out routine assessments, including oral cancer screenings, be sure to offer patients advice that might help lower their risk. Key messages might include smoking cessation, staying within the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption, and having a healthy balanced diet.[iii] If a patient does show signs of oral cancer, catching it early is essential.

Not only does early detection improve survival rates, but also patients’ quality of life. This is because, when in its early stages, the cancer may be more easily treated, whereas more intensive treatment (including radiotherapy in some cases) may affect patients’ ability to swallow and speak.i Because of this, it’s important for dental professionals to be vigilant, and monitor changes in their patients’ mouths consistently.i

The BeVigilant™ OraFusion™ System from Vigilant Biosciences® produces a simple and accurate assessment to aid in the early detection of oral cancer. The platform is designed for use at the point of care, and produces a report of either low, moderate, or elevated risk levels associated with oral cancer to assist dentists in their decision making. The system is suitable for use as a pre-diagnostic test for asymptomatic adults who present with visible abnormalities during the oral cancer exam to help determine their level of risk and the likelihood of potential oral cancer. 

Regular screening and decision-making

In 15 minutes or less, the BeVigilant™ OraFusion™ System uses patented technology to aid clinicians in the assessment of mucosal oral abnormalities which may assist in the detection of oral cancer. It determines oral cancer risk by testing saliva for early-stage biomarkers and analysing clinical risk factors. The test provides a “low”, “moderate’, or “elevated” risk result. 

Currently, when potential signs of oral cancer are unclear, healthcare teams might decide to “wait and see” if the problems develop, or undertake invasive tests to determine a diagnosis. The BeVigilant™ OraFusion™ System detects saliva-based biomarkers, and combines these values with clinical risk factors including age, gender, race, tobacco use, and alcohol use to establish the risk of high-grade dysplasia or cancer. This helps practitioners decide whether to take no action, schedule a follow up exam, or refer to a specialist. It ensures that those who are determined to be at elevated risk are referred as early as possible.

Benefits of early detection

When diagnosed at an earlier stage, treatment for oral cancer is far less invasive, having a much smaller impact on the patient’s quality of life. This is why looking for signs of oral cancer during routine exams is essential, especially as many patients are currently being diagnosed in the later stages. By using the BeVigilant™ OraFusion™ System in your practice, you have access to a non-invasive screening device which can be used alongside clinical assessments to detect high-risk patients and ensure they get the help they need. Implementing the BeVigilant™ OraFusion™ System provides an aid in assisting with decision making and offers peace-of-mind that you have carried out the appropriate checks. 

Improve outcomes in your practice with earlier intervention using a system which is: accurate, using multiple biomarkers and clinical risk factors to establish risk; non-invasive, using a simple saliva test; and fast, producing results in just 15 minutes. 


For more information, please visit www.vigilantbiosciences.com or email info@vigilantbiosciences.com

[i] Care Quality Commission. Dental mythbuster 33: Detecting oral cancer and improving outcomes in primary care. https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/dentists/dental-mythbuster-33-detecting-oral-cancer-improving-outcomes-primary

[ii] Daniel, M. & Rogers, S.N. (2022). Professional delays in referral of patients with mouth cancer: six case histories. British Dental Journal 233(12), 1003-1008.

[iii] British Dental Association. Early detection and prevention of oral cancer: a management strategy for dental practice. Accessed online Sept 23: https://bda.org/about-the-bda/campaigns/Documents/early_detection_of_oral_cancer.pdf

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