British Dental Association calls for closer collaboration between dentists and doctors to improve oral cancer care

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The British Dental Association has called for closer collaboration between dentists and doctors to improve care provided for patients with oral cancer.

The BDA in Scotland has launched an action plan to encourage doctors and dentists to work together to try and ensure that more cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed at an early stage and to urge patients to see their dentist for frequent check-ups. The ‘Oral Cancer: A Plan for Action’ document was presented at a Stand up to Cancer event in Edinburgh and coincides with Mouth Cancer Action Month. This is an annual campaign run by the Oral Health Foundation that takes place every November.

In the UK, rates of mouth cancer have almost doubled in the last ten years, with over 8,300 new cases diagnosed last year. According to Cancer Research, the rate is set to increase by 33% by 2035.

The new oral cancer care plan is focused on prevention and early diagnosis. Currently, ten-year survival rates range from 19%-58% depending on the exact location of cancerous cells and the stage at diagnosis. Unfortunately, mouth cancer survival rates aren’t improving at the same rate as other forms of cancer, and this is largely due to the fact that many people are being diagnosed at a late stage. This is likely to result from poor public awareness of the symptoms and causes of oral cancer.

The BDA is hoping that better collaboration between dentists and doctors, improved awareness of oral cancer symptoms and signs, and more frequent dental appointments will increase survival rates and lead to numbers of cases that are falling, rather than rising.

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