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Br Dent J. 2003 Sep 13;195(5):277-81; discussion 263.

The role of primary healthcare professionals in oral cancer prevention and detection.

Author information

1
University of Glasgow Dental School, 378 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JZ, Scotland, UK. l.macpherson@dental.gla.ac.uk

Abstract

AIM:

To investigate current knowledge, examination habits and preventive practices of primary healthcare professionals in Scotland, with respect to oral cancer, and to determine any relevant training needs.

SETTING:

Primary care.

METHOD:

Questionnaires were sent to a random sample of 357 general medical practitioners (GMPs) and 331 dental practitioners throughout Scotland. Additionally, focus group research and interviews were conducted amongst primary healthcare team members.

RESULTS:

Whilst 58% of dental respondents reported examining regularly for signs of oral cancer, GMPs examined patients' mouths usually in response to a complaint of soreness. The majority of GMPs (85%) and dentists (63%) indicated that they felt less than confident in detecting oral cancer, with over 70% of GMPs identifying lack of training as an important barrier. Many practitioners were unclear concerning the relative importance of the presence of potentially malignant lesions in the oral cavity. A high proportion of the GMPs indicated that they should have a major role to play in oral cancer detection (66%) but many felt strongly that this should be primarily the remit of the dental team.

CONCLUSION:

The study revealed a need for continuing education programmes for primary care practitioners in oral cancer-related activities. This should aim to improve diagnostic skills and seek to increase practitioners' participation in preventive activities.

PMID:
12973333
DOI:
10.1038/sj.bdj.4810481
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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