Factors Influencing Early Detection of Oral Cancer by Primary Health-Care Professionals

J Cancer Educ. 2016 Jun;31(2):285-91. doi: 10.1007/s13187-015-0823-2.


The purposes of this study are to determine early detection practices performed by primary healthcare professionals, to compare medical and dental sub-groups, and to identify factors that influence the ability of medical and dental practitioners to recognize precancerous changes and clinical signs of oral cancer. A 28-item survey instrument was used to interview a total of 330 Jordanian primary health-care professionals (165 dental and 165 medical). An oral cancer knowledge scale (0 to 31) was generated from correct responses on oral cancer general knowledge. An early detection practice scale (0 to 24) was generated from the reported usage and frequency of procedures in oral cancer examination. Also, a diagnostic ability scale (0 to 100) was generated from correct selections of suspicious oral lesions. Only 17.8 % of the participants reported that they routinely performed oral cancer screening in practices. Their oral cancer knowledge scores ranged from 3 to 31 with a mean of 15.6. The early detection practice scores ranged from 2 to 21 with a mean of 11.6. A significant positive correlation was found between knowledge scores and early detection practice scores (r = 0.22; p < 0.001). The diagnostic ability scores ranged from 11.5 to 96 with a mean of 43.6. The diagnostic ability score was significantly correlated with knowledge scores (r = 0.39; p < 0.001), but not with early detection practice scores (r = 0.01; p = 0.92). Few significant differences were found between medical and dental primary care professionals. Continuous education courses on early diagnosis of oral cancer and oral mucosal lesions are needed for primary health-care professionals.

Keywords: Diagnostic ability; Early diagnosis; Knowledge; Oral cancer; Practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Dentists
  • Diagnosis, Oral
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional Role
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires