DCPs can play a key role in the detection of oral cancer.
That’s according to the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK)[FGDP(UK)] that is supporting Mouth Cancer Action Month in the UK this month.
This initiative promotes the role played by the whole dental team in preventing and diagnosing mouth cancer.
‘Or a hygienist may have concern regarding an abnormal area on the internal mouth tissues’
The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) estimates that this year 6,000 people will be diagnosed with mouth cancer and, without early detection, around half of these people will die. Awareness of mouth cancer has significantly increased over recent years, nevertheless early diagnosis and prevention is still crucial to survival.
As the academic home for general dental practitioners and dental care professionals (DCPs), the FGDP(UK) recognises the importance of dental professionals in the screening of patients for signs of mouth cancer.
The early detection and referral of patients with suspicious oral lesions, coupled with the education of patients as to lifestyle choices, can significantly reduce the debilitating effects of this condition, with the BDHF stating figures showing that early detection can transform survival chances to more than 90%.
For instance, a dental technician may note an unfamiliar area on a plaster model, a dental nurse may see a new and unfamiliar raised area on a lip, or a hygienist may have concern regarding an abnormal area on the internal mouth tissues. The FGDP(UK) is aware of many cases where DCPs have gone on to refer suspect cases, thereby contributing towards early detection and a better outcome for the patient – more information on these cases can be found in the News section of the FGDP(UK) website.
Tony Griffin, chair of the DCP Committee at the FGDP(UK), says: ‘Such awareness raising by DCPs enhances patient care and plays a crucial role in helping to ensure that potential cases of oral cancer are referred on early.’
The published examples highlight how the whole dental team can contribute to the detection and treatment of mouth cancer and also show the importance of early diagnosis in the fight against this disease.