Richard Gross

Oral cancer in focus - Interview with Richard Gross of DentalEZ Group and the Identafi Oral Cancer Screening System

April 2, 2014
Interview with Richard Gross of the Identafi Oral Cancer Screening System.

Richard Gross is senior product manager for StarDental, designer and manufacturer of the Identafi Oral Cancer Screening System.

DIQ: Why is oral cancer such an important topic today?

RG: There are numerous reasons this topic is critical. First and foremost, the mortality rate for the disease, unlike most other cancers, has not declined in over 40 years.

Nearly 7,500 Americans die each year from oral cancer. Why? The reasons are complex and interconnected but oral cancer is not a sexy disease. What I mean by that is unlike other cancers such as lung, skin, and prostate, oral cancer does not receive nearly the amount of research for prevention and treatment. As such, oral cancer is often found late when treatment is limited and patients have less than a 30% chance of survival past 5 years.

The face of the oral cancer patient has changed. No longer is the typical patient a male over the age of 60 who smokes and drinks. If you go to the gym and look around, you will see the new face of oral cancer. This person is just as likely to be a young, otherwise healthy, male or female who has no deleterious habits.


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DIQ: How has the role of the dental practitioner changed in recent years?

RG: Dental schools are slowly beginning to improve the oral cancer and oral medicine curriculum. It was not uncommon for a dental student to receive just a few hours of education on oral cancer. In the past, it was rare to go to a dental meeting and hear information on oral cancer. Now, every day you can take advantage of someone lecturing on identification and care of oral cancer. Today, the typical dental student views themselves more as an overall provider of oral health services, more in control of the patients overall health. This includes the prevention of oral cancer.

DIQ: What is best method of oral cancer screening & why is it unique?

RG: The techniques to screen for oral cancer have improved over the past 10 years. Traditionally, the clinician would perform an extra and intraoral exam using the naked eye. In the past 10 years, adjunctive devices have been introduced to allow the user to visualize potentially cancerous lesions before they become visible to the naked eye. These tools use fluorescent and now narrow band reflective light to excite suspicious lesions below the mucosal layer allowing the clinician to see potentially cancerous tissue not visible to the naked eye.

DIQ: Where do you see oral cancer detection & treatment going in the next ten years?

RG: With more than 40,000 new cases each year and the patient population becoming younger and having more economic power, more and more resources will be dedicated to oral cancer research. Now even major universities are working to develop more non-invasive technologies to identify those with a genetic disposition to cancer, as well as simple tests using saliva to identify those with potential cancers earlier.


Richard Gross is senior product manager for StarDental, a part of DentalEZ Group, manufacturer of dental chairs, lights, and handpieces, as well as the Identafi Oral Cancer Screening System. Mr. Gross holds an MBA in health-care administration and has an extensive background in medical device and clinical product development within the medical and dental industry. He has held a variety of positions including business development and management, marketing, and new product development.