Make oral cancer a CPD priority

ORAL cancer detection and prevention should be a top priority in continuing professional development for dentists, says Cancer Research UK.

Earlier this year, lobbying by the organisation and others prompted the GDC to make oral cancer detection a recommended subject for CPD alongside legal and ethical issues and complaints handling.

But Cancer Research UK, the British Society for Oral Medicine and the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry would like to see improving oral cancer detection pushed higher on the priority list for professional development and are calling for prevention of the disease - not just detection - to be included. They believe this would help improve dentists’ understanding of the risks and causes of the disease and how to address these.

It is predicted that by 2030 there will be 9,200 cases of oral cancer in the UK every year compared to 6,240 in 2009. Rates continue to rise in both men and women and in all age groups, including the under 50s with more young people developing oral cancer than ever before.

Dr Alan Mighell, President of the British Society for Oral Medicine, said: "Oral cancer is one of the most serious conditions that the dental team can come across. As rates continue to rise, dental teams can expect to see more and more cases. They must be adequately equipped to promote prevention, recognise suspicious lesions and refer patients appropriately."

Hazel Nunn, Cancer Research UK’s head of health evidence and information, added: "Too often oral cancer is found at a late stage when treatment is devastating and the chances of survival are poor. Dental teams are in a unique position to help detect oral cancer in its earlier stages when it’s easier to treat and the outlook is greatly improved."