Oral cancer educational materials for the general public: 1998

J Public Health Dent. 2000 Winter;60(1):49-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2000.tb03292.x.


Objectives: Previous studies have shown that US adults are not well informed about oral cancers and only 15 percent ever have had an oral cancer examination. This study sought to determine the quantity and adequacy of educational materials designed to inform or educate US adults about risks for, and signs and symptoms of, oral cancer and the need for an oral cancer examination.

Methods: Letters requesting copies of oral cancer educational materials produced by the organization or agency--leaflets, fact sheets, pamphlets, videos, posters--were sent to 172 national and state organizations or agencies. To determine the adequacy of the items, a previously developed, tested, and used form based on current science was adapted for this study. In addition, the SMOG index was used to determine readability for printed items.

Results: Seventy-seven percent or 132 of the selected organizations responded to queries. A total of 59 items were received that focused on or included the topic of oral cancer. Twenty of these 59 items focused specifically on oral cancer; the balance, on other topics, but mentioned oral cancer. The readability ranged from sixth to 13th grade.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates a dearth of educational materials about oral and pharyngeal cancers; most are written at too high a grade level for the general public. These findings may help to explain why the public is so uninformed about these neoplasms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Broadsides as Topic
  • Cancer Care Facilities
  • Government Agencies
  • Health Education, Dental / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Pamphlets
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Examination
  • Societies, Dental
  • Teaching Materials*
  • Video Recording
  • Voluntary Health Agencies