Background: Oral cancer is increasing in incidence in the UK and indeed worldwide. Delay in diagnosis is common; up to half of patients are diagnosed with advanced lesions. Thus it is essential to develop methods to aid early detection. This study aimed to assess dental patients' experiences and awareness of oral cancer and screening within general dental practice.
Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire survey of 184 English-speaking adults, with no previous history of oral cancer was conducted. The questionnaire collected data on participant's knowledge of oral cancer, experience of 'screening', attitudes and feelings towards having a screening, anticipated help-seeking behaviours, health-related behaviours (particularly risk factors) and sociodemographics.
Results: Twenty percent of respondents had never heard of oral cancer; 77% knew little or nothing about it and 72% did not know that their Dentist routinely screens for oral cancer. Overall, attitudes to screening were positive. Ninety two percent of respondents would like their Dentist to tell them if they were being screened for signs of oral cancer and 97% would like help from their Dentists to reduce their risk.
Conclusion: Patients seem generally unaware of oral cancer screening by their dentist but are happy to take part in screening, would like to be informed, and welcome the support of their Dentist to reduce their risk of developing oral cancer.
BMC Oral Health. 2012;12(55) © 2012 BioMed Central, Ltd.