Each year across the globe nearly 400 thousand people develop oral cancer and approximately 200 thousand die. In many countries and cultures, both East and West, numbers are rising. We know why: tobacco – both smoked and especially smokeless(chewed); areca [betel] nut chewing; alcohol abuse; Human papillomavirus as sexually transmitted infections; poor oral hygiene with periodontitis and/or repeated mechanical trauma. In Asia and the diaspora most cases are preceded by an OPMD [oral potentially malignant disorder] eg. leucoplakia, oral submucous fibrosis, oral lichen planus. Every dentists’ role in prevention and early detection is obvious: lifestyle advice; regular check-ups with comprehensive visual examination of the head, neck and mouth at intervals determined by the level of individual risk, and rapid referral.
1. Know the major causes of oral cancer in your country.
2. Be motivated to assist patients to quit tobacco and areca products, to moderate alcohol, eat healthily and maintain a healthy mouth.
3. Be proactive with opportunistic screening of every patient at every course of care.
4. Know the local referral pathways for patients with suspicious oral lesions.