Oral Cancer Guide Created For Dentists

Oral cancer communication guide created in London to help professionals discuss it with patients.

Hopefully this guide will lead to more discussion between dentists and their patients
Hopefully this guide will lead to more discussion between dentists and their patients

The guide was developed in Kings College Dental Institute to help dental workers navigate the subject with their patients.

Dentists have owned up to feeling reluctant to inform their patients that they are trying to detect signs of oral cancer during examinations and also admit to often avoiding the use of the word cancer altogether. In order to aid dentists in overcoming this reluctance, an oral cancer communication guide was developed and piloted at King’s College London’s Dental Institute.

The guide was created to show dental practitioners how they should bring up the fact that oral cancer may be an issue during a routine appointment with causing the patient unnessecary anxiety or lengthening the consultation. To find out whether training in the use of this oral cancer guide could help dentists feel confident enough to have oral cancer-related discussions with their patients, a pre- and post-intervention study was held at King’s College London.

Inside look at Kings College London Dental Institute
Inside look at Kings College London Dental Institute

The results, which were published in the British Dental Journal, highlight that the training session had a positive impact by lowering perceived barriers to oral cancer-related discussions, raising self-efficacy and increasing oral cancer discussions between dentists and patients. 41 dentists joined in on the training. The session gave participants a brief update on oral cancer, an introduction to the oral cancer communication guide, and learning activities and chances to practise using the guide through role-play and feedback.

A post-training questionnaire allowed the success of the training to be shown and a noticeably higher proportion of the dentists said they felt happier and more able to inform patients that they were being screened for oral cancer, as opposed to pre-training. Co-author of the study, Professor Tim Newton, said:

“Highlighting the need for training in this area, this study has shown that the training sessions had a positive impact on the dentists’ self-reported behaviour and indicates a positive response to the guide as well.”

Process for Oral Cancer Screening
Process for Oral Cancer Screening

Hopefully this guide will improve relations between patient and dentist and allow screening to be a more open process.

You can read the study, published in The British Dental Journal, HERE.


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