Sunday, 27 January 2013
Tariq Drabu Dentist Affairs Concerning Mouth Cancer 2013
Last week North West dentist Ian Hughes was acquitted in the High Court in London by a judge of negligently failing to spot a patient’s life-threatening oral cancer.
The circumstances surrounding this case were really unfortunate. The dentist concerned was cleared of any negligent behaviour. Nevertheless mouth cancer is a disease that has increased by around 50% over the last 10 years. Over the next 10 years around 60,000 people will be diagnosed with this disease. Without early detection around half of these people will die. By 2030 the it is estimated that almost half a million people worldwide will die from mouth cancer.
Sometimes when I talk to patients they are not even aware that you can get cancer in your mouth. Here at Langley Dental Practice we make it a routine that at every regular check up of our patients we ask about and record smoking and alcohol habits which are known risk factors for mouth cancer. We also try and regularly offer preventative advice about smoking and alcohol. These are some of the frontline things that we as dentists can do in order to tackle the problem of mouth cancer. Also at every examination we do a thorough check not only of the teeth and gums but also of all the soft tissues of the mouth to detect any possible signs or warnings of mouth cancer. The majority of mouth cancer cases are linked to consumption of tobacco and alcohol. When we look at our patient population we are looking not just at cigarettes but also amongst our ethnic minority patients we are looking at issues such as habits of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan.
People ask me what the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer are. A white or red patch presenting in the mouth is one of the early signs of mouth cancer. Another sign is an ulcer in the mouth sometimes painful, sometimes painless that does not heal normally after a period of around 2 to 3 weeks. I would urge any patients with these type of symptoms to present themselves to a dentist in order to get themselves examined. It may be something it may be nothing. We at Langley Dental Practice support the line that says 'If in doubt get checked out.' Most of the time it will be nothing and sometimes patients feel concerned that they have wasted our time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would rather have a dozen concerned patients who think they may have something wrong with them but are actually okay, rather than missing the one patient who really does have mouth cancer. Because it is that one patient who really does matter and who really does need our help.
Cancer is a disease that affects us all directly or indirectly whether within our family circle or amongst friends it is a condition that has a profound impact upon all those who come across it. Our role as dental professionals is to firstly educate our patients to look out for the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer. We must also focus on the factors that cause mouth cancer such as smoking and alcohol and issue strong preventative advice to our patients to reduce smoking and alcohol consumption. Finally we must be vigilant at all times when we examine our patients and look out for the signs and symptoms of potential mouth cancers. We must work together with our patients to do whatever we can to fight this disease.