Oral cancer awareness of undergraduate medical and dental students

Lachlan M. Carter, Graham R. Ogden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    99 Citations (Scopus)


    The incidence of oral cancer is increasing in the United Kingdom. Early detection of oral cancers makes them more amenable to treatment and allows the greatest chance of cure. Delay in presentation and/or referral has a significant effect on the associated morbidity and mortality. Lack of general medical practitioner and general dental practitioner oral cancer knowledge has been shown to contribute to delays in referral and treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate the oral cancer awareness of future general medical and general dental practitioners by assessing undergraduate medical and dental students' knowledge of prevention and early detection of oral cancer.
    Questionnaires were delivered to undergraduate medical and dental students at the University of Dundee, assessing oral examination habits, delivery of advice on oral cancer risk factors, knowledge of oral cancer risk factors and clinical appearance, preferred point of referral and requests for further information.
    Undergraduate medical students were less likely to examine patients' oral mucosa routinely and less likely to advise patients about risk factors for oral cancer. Medical students identified fewer oral cancer risk factors. In particular alcohol use was identified poorly. Medical students also identified fewer oral changes associated with oral cancer. Erythroplakia and erythroleukoplakia were identified poorly. Medical students felt less well informed regarding oral cancer. 86% and 92% of undergraduate medical and dental students respectively requested further information about oral cancer.
    This study highlights the need for improved education of undergraduate medical and dental students regarding oral cancer.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)44
    JournalBMC Medical Education
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2007


    • Adult
    • Alcohol Drinking
    • Attitude of Health Personnel
    • Awareness
    • Educational Status
    • Female
    • Health Care Surveys
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Mouth Neoplasms
    • Referral and Consultation
    • Risk Factors
    • Scotland
    • Smoking
    • Students, Dental
    • Students, Medical


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