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J Public Health Dent. 2003 Spring;63(2):119-25.

Oral cancer examinations among adults at high risk: findings from the 1998 National Health Interview Survey.

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Baltimore College of Dental Surgery Dental School, University of Maryland, 666 West Baltimore Street, Room 3-E-02, Baltimore, MD 21201-1586, USA.



Cigarette smoking and alcohol use are risk factors for oral and pharyngeal cancer. Recommendations for periodic oral cancer examinations highlight the importance of examining high-risk smokers and alcohol users. This investigation assessed whether cigarette smoking and alcohol use were associated with receipt of an oral cancer examination.


The cross-sectional 1998 National Health Interview Survey was used. Covariates included age, sex, race/ethnicity, poverty status, and geographic region. Weighted bivariate and multivariate analyses were stratified by dentition status and limited to adults aged > or = 40 years.


Regardless of dentition status, current smokers were no more likely to have received an examination than were never smokers. The associations between alcohol use and receipt of an examination were mixed, and were generally more favorable among those who had a dental visit in the last year. Dentate current and former alcohol users were more likely than abstainers to have received an examination. There was no statistically significant association between alcohol use and receipt of an oral cancer examination among edentulous adults.


Practitioners should improve the provision rates of oral cancer examinations in accordance with published guidelines, especially among current smokers and edentulous alcohol users who have not been to the dentist in the last year. Recommendations for improvement are presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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