Oral cancer is an increasing global health problem, with oral and pharyngeal cancer reported as being the 11th most common malignancy mortality reason. Studies show that even 77% of deaths from oral cancers occurred in less developed regions. Gladly, in some countries mortality from oral cancer is decreasing due to timely proper treatment. Concerning diagnostic and treatment progress, the ability of dental practitioners and physicians to recognize and diagnose oral cancer as early as possible and send patients to the appropriate specialist as quickly as possible is of great significance, and in order to achieve that, doctors must continuously improve their knowledge.
The research was carried out across ten cities located in Lithuania and their districts. In the implementation of the main tasks, the subjects were divided into two groups: A – 256 randomly selected dentists; B – 114 randomly selected physicians. Equal questionnaires were compiled for both groups. The questionnaire divided into 3 parts: 1) demographic data 2) part is devoted to assessing experience in the field of primary oral cancer diagnostic (POCD). 3) part was intended to evaluate the knowledge of POCD and oncological vigilance.
The main results of the present study indicate that 208 dentists and 99 physicians (total n=307) answered that they had been visited by a patient with oral cancer. 200 dentists and 73 physicians (total n=273) answered that they had diagnosed or suspected a case of oral cancer. 211 dentists and 61 physicians (n=272) state that they examine the patient’s oral cavity for oncodiagnostic reasons. 205 dentists and all surveyed physicians responded (altogether n=319) that they received enough knowledge about oral cancer from their university studies. All the surveyed physicians and even 247 dentists (altogether n=361) said they wanted to have an annual oral cancer diagnosis week at their workplace (free supplementary education and POCD). Most assessed doctors claim that their knowledge about the primary diagnosis of oral cancer is average (n=162) only 16.8% dentists and 25.4% physicians evaluate patient’s alcohol usage, contrastingly even 68.4% and 73.7% respectively evaluate patient’s tobacco usage in the anamnesis. Regarding the correctly answered questions concerning the most common type of oral cancer, the present study shows low results: 70.3% and 61.4% of dentists and physicians accordingly.
Healthcare providers such as dentists and physicians take up a big part in POCD. Physicians as well as the majority of dentists in Lithuania demonstrate a lack of information regarding mean symptoms of oral cancer and do not perform as thorough anamnesis as foreign clinics, that is why they may often fail to identify oral cancer at an early stage. The vast majority of physicians and dentists in Lithuania who participated in the present study agreed that oral cancer awareness should be raised. Therefore, more education on POCD should be included in dental curriculums.