Being diagnosed with cancer, in any of its forms, is one of the most earth-shattering moments in someone’s life. It is the start of a new direction for their life-style, their homelife and their health.
Mouth cancer, in particular, can be considered rare, as it accounts for 2% of all cancers, but that still leaves an estimated 8,700 people diagnosed within the UK every year.
Whilst almost 50% of mouth cancer is preventable, in the last 10 years the mortality rate has risen a whopping 16%. This is owing to a number of reasons, but a main one being that whilst most victims of mouth cancer stay within the 50-75 year old range, younger people are getting it earlier on in their lives.
From the moment a person is diagnosed, throughout their treatment process – every member of the patient’s dental team is vital to their recovery process and can drastically improve their quality of life.
In terms of dental training, it is found that in postgraduate and undergraduate training, trainee dentists develop and extend their skills on the detection, prevention and treatment of oral cancer. Unfortunately, this can sometimes overshadow the integral care of the patient throughout their whole journey. This is why it is imperative that a collaborative approach is used by the dental team, as it is key in producing the best and most effective treatment solutions.
The first person that is most likely to detect signs of oral cancer would be a general dental practitioner, as the leading action of early detection involves visiting the dentist often, regular oral cancer screenings and a thorough review of the patient’s dental history to ensure there are no risks that the patient has, which makes them more susceptible to getting oral cancer. (Beacher and Sweeney, 2018).
When it comes to any form of cancer, taking immediate action is vital for ensuring the most positive outcome for the patient. Early detection can have a significant impact on the chances of survival and can essentially save the patient a lot of pain and suffering.
Ultimately, patients must ensure that their oral hygiene is enhanced and maintained with thorough, daily dental care. They may also be presented with dietary guidance, fluoride supplements given on prescription and listening to the advice of their dentists in order to optimize their dental health.