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Aust Dent J. 2015 Sep;60(3):397-403. doi: 10.1111/adj.12246.

Patient perspectives of diagnostic delay for suspicious oral mucosal lesions.

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UQ Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland.
The Australian Centre for Oral Oncology Research and Education, School of Dentistry, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia.



This study aimed to investigate patient experiences regarding the discovery of and subsequent referral for suspicious oral mucosal pathology. The population under investigation were patients of an oral medicine clinic in Australia who had been referred for oral lesions suspected for malignancy.


A self-completed questionnaire gathered information regarding patient experiences and beliefs leading up to diagnosis at their review appointments.


Fifty-four per cent of participants knew about their mucosal pathology before referral. The highest proportion of delay occurred between self-discovery of a lesion and seeking help. Ninety-one per cent of self-aware participants had reason for seeking help in relation to their mucosal pathology. The three most common reasons for this was the desire for an explanation, being advised by a health care provider or presence of pain.


Some patients were unaware of their own oral mucosal pathology and some seek help only when worried, in pain or following advice. Practitioners should examine the oral mucosa to detect suspicious oral mucosal pathology since patients may not be aware of its existence.


Awareness; mouth neoplasms; oral cancer; patients; survey

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