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Oral Dis. 2010 May;16(4):333-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2009.01642.x. Epub 2010 Mar 9.

Is early diagnosis of oral cancer a feasible objective? Who is to blame for diagnostic delay?

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Department of Stomatology, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


Worldwide, oral cancer has one of the lowest survival rates and poor prognosis remains unaffected despite recent therapeutic advances. Reducing diagnostic delay to achieve earlier detection is a cornerstone to improve survival. Thus, intervention strategies to minimize diagnostic delays resulting from patient factors and to identify groups at risk in different geographical areas seem to be necessary. The identification of a 'scheduling delay' in oral cancer justifies the introduction of additional educational interventions aimed at the whole health care team at dental and medical practices. The access to and the kind of healthcare system in a particular country are also relevant in this context, particularly the referral system. The design of a simple, clear, fail-safe, fast-track referral scheme for those suspected with cancer may diminish greatly the length of the delay. Moreover, there is a need for future investigations, which are methodologically adequate, that consider cultural and geographical aspects and use patient survival as the final outcome, that are able to recognize the agents/factors responsible for diagnostic delay by patients as well as healthcare providers and those attributable to the healthcare systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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