BMC oral health 2017 03 2317(1) 69 doi 10.1186/s12903-017-0351-z
Oral cancer is a preventable disease. Its occurrence is mostly due to lifestyle. In Sudan, the use of smokeless tobacco (Toombak) has long been linked to oral cancer. Knowledge of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer may well aid in early diagnosis and treatment. This is bound to result in increasing survival rates, as well as reducing the oral cancer burden on the society. This study aimed to assess oral cancer awareness regarding knowledge of signs, symptoms, risk factors and sources of the information. Furthermore, it attempts to evaluate attitudes towards oral cancer screening and any previous experience of screening, amongst dental patients attending University of Science and Technology (UST) Dental Teaching Hospital. Omdurman, Sudan.
A hospital based cross-sectional study, interviewer-administered questionnaire was conducted amongst 500 adult patients attending the UST Dental Hospital during 2015.
A total of 57.7% (286) of the individuals demonstrated good knowledge of signs and symptoms, whereas 49% (139) expressed good knowledge of risk factors of oral cancer. For the majority of the individuals 66.1% (290), the most common source of information about oral cancer was from the media, while 33.9% individuals (149), obtained knowledge from direct contact of health workers. The overwhelming majority, 93.2% (466) never screened for oral cancer despite their positive attitude towards it 66.4% (332). Knowledge of risk factors associated significantly with those reported positive attitude towards oral cancer screening and those reported direct contact with health workers as a source of information, (p ≤ 0.001). Moreover, females and those living in urban districts scores higher than their counterpart in knowledge of risk factor of oral cancer. In addition, those employed 58.6% (280) and 62.8% (164) with correct believes about oral cancer showed significant association with positive knowledge of signs and symptoms (p ≤ 0.05).
Awareness levels, knowledge of risk factors and identifying early signs and symptoms of oral cancer necessitate the need for more structured preventive programs using media. Dentists and health workers should do more because they have a pivotal role in early diagnosis by performing oral cancer screening, raising levels of knowledge and in rectifying misconceptions about oral cancer. This would entail a reduction in high rates of morbidity and mortality associated with oral cancer.