Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Dentistry


Not Listed

Committee Chair

Christina DeBiase.


Oral cancer has become a major public health problem. Health care professionals need to assume the responsibility of effectively screening all patients in their care for early signs of this disease. Too often, oral cancer is not diagnosed until it is in its later stages when treatment is not as effective. The late diagnosis contributes to the large number of deaths each year that could have been prevented had the patient had adequate screenings. Currently, there is no mandated law on providing oral cancer screenings.;The purpose of this study is to examine the oral cancer screening protocols utilized by practicing dental hygienists in West Virginia. The results of this study will illustrate the need for a mandated oral cancer screening regimen. Surveys were sent to the homes of all practicing dental hygienists in West Virginia through two separate mailings. The survey addressed topics including health histories, frequency of updates, biopsies performed/referred, use of hand-held fluorescence detection devices, patient education; continuing education, and personal feelings of confidence on oral cancer related topics. The data obtained was analyzed for interpretation.;A response rate of 50.1% was achieved. The results showed that the majority of dental hygienists (96%) are performing some form of oral cancer screenings on their patients. Dental hygienists varied on many aspects of their oral cancer screenings. The results of the survey reiterate the need for a universal oral cancer screening regimen to be utilized by all health care professionals.