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J Am Dent Assoc. 2000 Apr;131(4):453-62.

Oral pharyngeal cancer prevention and early detection. Dentists' opinions and practices.

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National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. 20892-6401, USA.



The five-year survival rate for patients in the United States diagnosed with oral pharyngeal cancer is 52 percent, which suggests that these cancers are diagnosed at late stages. The authors conducted this study to determine U.S. dentists' opinions and practices regarding oral cancer prevention and early detection.


The authors mailed a pretested survey to 7,000 randomly selected general practitioners. A total of 3,200 dentists provided information on how they conduct oral cancer examinations, their use of health history questions to assess patients' oral cancer risks and their oral cancer training and practices. The authors carried out analyses using unweighted data; both bivariate and logistic analytical techniques at a P < or = .01 level of significance were used.


On average, dentists assessed about five of the eight health history items on the survey. Eighty-six percent indicated that they did not conduct oral cancer examinations on edentulous patients 18 years of age or older; 81 percent, however, reported that they conducted oral cancer examinations for 100 percent of their patients 40 years of age or older on their initial appointment.


The reported practices of these dentists regarding oral cancer, in conjunction with their opinions about key aspects of these practices and their training, point to a need for systematic educational updates in oral cancer prevention and early detection.


Dentists need to determine their patients' risks for oral cancers and provide routine and comprehensive oral cancer examinations.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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