The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) (UK) has expressed its support for a new standards document on cancer referrals from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Roughly half of all people born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and the ‘quality standard’ is designed to help healthcare providers and practitioners put measures in place to speed up diagnosis and encourage patients to attend appointments following a referral for suspected cancer.
In the UK, more than 20 people a day are diagnosed with oral cancer, and FGDP(UK) is asking dentists to take note in particular of the recommendation that ‘people with suspected cancer who are referred to a cancer service are given written information encouraging them to attend’.
TheFGDP(UK) is recommending that oral health professionals and dental practices make suitable resources, such as the NHS’s ‘Patient information for urgent referrals’ leaflet, available for patients.
Dr Mick Horton, dean of the FGDP(UK), said: ‘During the routine examination, general dental practitioners look for signs of oral cancer and make a referral where they suspect a patient may have cancer or pre-cancerous lesion. But without a resource of professionally pre-prepared information, our attempts as dentists to reassure, support and encourage attendance at referrals by patients, all without causing alarm, may fall short.
‘The NHS’s “Patient information for urgent referrals” leaflet is an excellent one-page resource aimed at patients who are being urgently referred by a GP or dentist for suspected cancer. Practitioners should explore this and other available resources, and consider making them available for patients within their practice.’