UK Charity Encouraging Ongoing Oral Cancer Education to Curb Rising Rates
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/04/2012 -- Is your dentist getting a little nosey? Wanting to know whether or not you’re a smoker, how many drinks you consume a day or whether or not you’re sexually active? They could be heeding some new advice from the UK that suggests that chatting with their patients about their daily habits and personal could lead to new ways to lower rising rates of oral cancers.
A British charity, Cancer Research UK, is imploring dentists to be more active in probing not just under the gumline, but also into their patients backgrounds, looking for risk factors like smoking, drinking, and unsafe sexual behaviors.
Hazel Nunn, head of Cancer Research UK’s health evidence and information division says that the charity would like doctors to “be more aware of the risk factors [in patients] so that they ask the right questions. Dentists should be asking their patients if they smoke or drink heavily. That doesn't necessarily mean following up with a lecture, but they should be aware.”
Nunn believes that an increased awareness of risk factors in their patients’ lives could help dentists and oral surgeons identify patients that are more at-risk for oral cancer and encourage them to screen for suspicious lesions or pre-cancerous growths.
Along with Cancer Research UK, the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry and British Society for Oral Medicine are lobbying those in the dental health field to take oral cancer more seriously. The groups have recommended that the British General Dental Council make preventative detection and screening for oral cancer an obligation part of training for all dentists. The Council recommended that such early detection education be available for study. As of yet, there has been no mandate discussed regarding dentists participating in oral cancer screening education.
Nunn agrees the recommendation is a good first step, but believes more education is necessary to curb rising oral cancer figures:
“It's a commitment to doing more, but what we're asking for is for oral cancer early diagnosis and prevention to be up there alongside cross infection control and the risk from X-ray radiation. All dentists will receive some initial training on oral cancer, but it's not part of their ongoing training."
The UK charity believes that 9,200 cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the UK each year by 2030, as opposed to 2009 rates of 6,240 cases per year.
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