EVALUATION OF AWARENESS, KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDE AND SCREENING OF ORAL CANCER AMONG DENTAL PRACTITIONERS AND DENTAL STUDENTS- AN ONLINE QUESTIONAIRE BASED CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY
Background: Oral cancer is a silent invasive disease with poor prognosis and more than 60 % of these cases were diagnosed in later stages. Early diagnosis of the malignancy greatly increased survival rates as the mouth is easily accessible for self or clinical examination. Lack of awareness among dental practitioners and health care providers is the most significant factor in delaying diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer.
Aim & Objective: 1) To assess the level of knowledge and awareness regarding oral cancer, its clinical presentation and associated risk factors among dental practitioners and dental students.2) To explore dentists’ attitude regarding their role in screening, detection and prevention of oral cancer.
Material & Methods: A cross sectional online survey was conducted on 300 dental practitioners and dental students, who are working and studying in recognized dental institutes and dental clinics receptively in the area around tri-city. A validated questionnaire survey comprised of 29 questions regarding a basic knowledge and awareness, and attitude and screening of oral cancer was distributed randomly among the participants. The Performa was distributed through electronic media and all the participants filled the questionnaire Performa. Performa was based on the demographic data and to raise the awareness, knowledge, attitude and screening of oral cancer among dental practitioners and dental students. All the data were collected, tabulated and analysed using SPSS software 20.
Results: A total of 300 dental practitioners and dental students were approached, of which 273 participated in the study. The response rate of the study was 91%. Among the various risk factors for causing oral cancer, the use of alcohol was identified as a major risk factor by 267 (97.8%) dentists. The high-risk age group for oral cancer was identified in between 40-60 years by 246 (90.1%) dentists. Two hundred and forty-four (89.4%) dentists strongly agreed that patients should be referred to specialists if they suspected oral cancer in any lesion. Majority 97.8% of the dentists routinely practiced complete oral cavity examination on all patients who attended their practice.
Conclusion: It can be concluded that though the mean knowledge and awareness, attitude, practice and screening about oral cancer among specialized dentists was good but there is a need to improve the knowledge and practices of risk factors for oral cancer among general dental practitioners by either collaborative approach by various specialties or by arranging continuous educational programs for them.
Keywords: Oral cancer, oral cancer awareness, Poor oral hygiene, screening, Risk factors, Dental professionals
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