Dental Hygenist Denise Pawlshyn

Free oral cancer screening a smart move

Early detection through a simple exam is key to beating back oral cancer

Castlegar dental hygienist Denise Pawlyshyn wants to educate everyone about the importance of screening for oral cancer, something the Canadian Cancer Society is also supporting during Daffodil Month.

Pawlyshyn has specialized equipment at Clean Between, located at 2709A Columbia Avenue, all month and is offering free screenings without an appointment.

The next available times are on Saturday, April 27 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Sherif Ahmed and his wife Kahsar Shaw were at the office waiting for their turn for the short, pain-free exam.

“We’ve never had it done but it’s probably a good test to get,” said Shaw, who has volunteered for the Canadian Cancer Society in the past.

The Identafil® Multi-Spectral Fluorescence and Reflectance technology Pawlyshyn employs may sound like something that fills a room but the device is small, sleek and looks almost like a high-tech magic wand.

The device has three lights: white, that simply helps Pawlyshyn see better; purple, which highlights cell changes, and green which helps see what’s happening on a vascular (blood flow) level.

In addition to the technology, there is a hands-on component to the testing which involves checking the head, neck, throat, tongue, cheeks, palate and lymph glands.

Displays in Pawlyshyn’s office noted that more than 3,600 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed in Canada every year, partly due to better detection methods and more frequent screening.

“I’ve seen 15 cases of oral cancer in my time as a hygienist,” said Pawlyshyn. “The examples [on display in the office] are the more extreme cases — many from other parts of the world.”

Like many cancers, early detection is key to beating back the disease. Left unchecked, oral cancer can metastasize and spread to other areas.

Pawlyshyn has been working from the Columbia Avenue location for about two years and has dental, sterilizing and X-ray equipment. She graduated in Dental Hygiene from the College of New Caledonia in Prince George in 1998 and has also worked overseas.

For more information call Clean Between at 250-365-8024 or visit



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