Greater awareness of head and neck cancers among dentists, especially in patients whose lifestyles put them at relatively high risk, could lead to earlier detection and rapid referral. The use of adjunctive screening tools in general practice could assist in achieving this goal.
Delays may occur because of limited patient awareness of the symptoms of their cancer leading to delays in visiting their GP or dentist. This can be addressed through better education for patients and dentists in recognising early signs, raising public awareness of risk factors and informing patients of opportunities for oral cancer screening. An established documented referral pathway will reduce delays in access to treatment.
Dental health professionals should take advantage of any opportunities for counselling patients, who are known to smoke, chew betel or tobacco and/or are believed to drink heavily. They should offer help with overcoming addiction, including referral to appropriate support services. People should also be made aware of the increasing incidence of mouth cancers related to the HPV Infection.
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