WVU dental school instrumental in cancer diagnosis and care

WVU dental school instrumental in cancer diagnosis and care

Diagnostic sciences department offers biopsy service

With a nationwide increase in the prevalence of HPV and the high rate of tobacco use in our state (both of which are linked to oral cancer), West Virginia ranks fourth in the nation in cases of cancers of the mouth and throat. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates 370 new oral and oropharyngeal cancer cases will be diagnosed in West Virginia in 2019.

At the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, the Department of Diagnostic Sciences has developed a team of specialists aimed at raising awareness about oral cancer. The efforts include educating the public about the causes of oral cancer while promoting prevention and regular oral exams. In addition, the team maintains an active biopsy service staffed by pathologists trained specifically in the diagnosis of tumors of the mouth.

Juan Bugueno, DDS, MS, Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Medicine (ABOM), is the newest member to join the diagnostic sciences department at the dental school. He was hired as an assistant professor in May 2019. He joins oral and maxillofacial pathologists, Jerry Bouquot, DDS, MSD and Hiba Qari, BDS, MSD, and the interim chair of the diagnostic sciences department, Steven Whitaker, DDS.

Dr. Juan Bugueno is the first oral medicine physician to join the dental school.Part of the appeal for the experts coming to West Virginia’s only dental school is the opportunity to work with colleagues in oral and maxillofacial surgery and otolaryngology. The staff members are skilled clinicians in examination of the mouth and jaws for abnormalities.

“This institution has a well-established reputation for innovative leadership in dental education and research programs,” said Bugueno. “I will certainly have the opportunity to further develop my didactic as well as clinical skills in oral medicine and collaborate, in an interdisciplinary fashion, with the training of our future oral healthcare providers.”

The four members of the diagnostic sciences department are all residency trained, board certified experts in the fields of oral and maxillofacial pathology or oral medicine.

“We are very fortunate in that all of our faculty are board certified, having completed residency training at world renowned programs. Each has continued their education through fellowships and in some cases additional specialties,” said Whitaker. “Whether in the lab, clinic or classroom, these experiences add a degree of expertise that is unique among departments across the nation.”

As the dental school’s team strengthens so does its collaboration with WVU Medicine’s services, including the Cancer Center, Pain Center and Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery.

Dr. Whitaker is the chair of the diagnostic sciences department at the WVU dental school.“The department received a significant boost with the addition of Dr. Bugueno who is the first oral medicine trained clinician to join the faculty at WVU. Dr. Bugueno’s expertise sits at the intersection between dentistry and medicine and will be an integral part of Dean Anthony “Tom” Borgia’s vision to reach out to the greater medical community,” added Whitaker.

Bugueno’s skills perfectly complement the dental school’s mission to focus on the overall health of a patient in addition to their oral health.

Bugueno can not only diagnose but also treat oral diseases and manifestations of medication induced oral complications. Chemotherapy is used to treat approximately 70 percent of cancer patients. Of these patients, about 40 percent develop oral manifestations, including mucositis and xerostomia. Bugueno’s training and clinical experience allows him to collaborate with the care of those patients and alleviate the side effects that come with cancer therapies.

About our Experts

Whitaker, an oral and maxillofacial pathologist, is also an endodontic specialist and recently completed a fellowship program in forensic odontology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Dr. Qari and Dr. Bouquot are leading oral health care providers with a special focus on oral cancer. Bouquot’s extensive research in oral and maxillofacial pathology has provided him the opportunity to name more than three dozen new oral diseases. He is considered a world expert in the study of smokeless tobacco. He is co-author of the most widely read textbook in oral and maxillofacial pathology. To date, he has authored or co-authored seven texts.

Qari has been actively involved in research involving tumors of the jaws and soft tissues, inflammation of the bone, and oral mucosal disorders such as lichen planus. She is director of the dental school’s biopsy service.

Bugueno, a Chilean educated dentist, with oral surgery and oral medicine training, has researched and written about oral mucosal lesions, infections of the teeth and jaws, and medically complex patients. He received his oral medicine training at the University of Pennsylvania as well as his Master of Science in Oral Biology and Geriatric Fellowship. He has worked extensively with the community, in the private area and in the academic field.