With 7,698 new cases of mouth cancer annually and death rates remaining consistently high, we are proud that the Association of Dental Groups (ADG), which represents UK corporate dental groups, is able to support the British Dental Health Foundation during Mouth Cancer Action Month.
Mouth Cancer Action Month is different to most other cancer awareness campaigns, in that it is not just about educating the public about mouth cancer: it is also about increasing knowledge within clinical professions. This is particularly important as we know from discussions amongst our members and external surveys of healthcare professionals, that many feel they need more training on mouth cancer identification and treatment.
Mouth cancer rates are on the rise and we know that early detection is key to increasing survival. Ensuring dental health specialists are fully equipped to be able to spot the signs of the disease is therefore critical. But all too often, patients aren't getting picked up as early as they should for a whole host of reasons, including the nature of the disease itself.
The ADG is in a unique position in that our members represent approximately 10% of the country's dental surgeries and employ approximately 3,500 dentists. We therefore conclude that the best way for us to support the campaign would be by improving education amongst the profession about the disease and the treatment processes.
To make this into a reality, in conjunction with the British Dental Health Foundation, the ADG has developed a CPD module, created at the IDH Manchester Academy, focused on the early detection and treatment of the disease. This new module will be available to all dental health professionals in the UK and we hope it will be a powerful new tool for increasing knowledge, raising awareness and, most importantly, improving outcomes for patients.
We are particularly pleased that the ADG module will be available free to all dentists and oral health professionals in the UK regardless of whom they work for. Dentists who also wish to apply for a CPD certificate upon successful completion of the two hour long module can do so for just £25 +VAT, £5 of which will be donated to the British Dental Health Foundation and the Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign.
In the past there has been no compulsory CPD module for mouth cancer identification. Recently, the General Dental Council (GDC) have recommended that oral cancer - early detection, is included within the 5 year CPD cycle and we very much hope this module will make it easier to implement that recommendation.
The module itself gives dental health professionals a detailed and interactive overview of how to spot cancers, and the treatment process involved. There are four videos including interviews with Dr Nigel Carter and Professor StJohn Crean, Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire. There is also an interview with a patient and a detailed example of a mouth cancer screening.
By the end of the module, dental health professionals should be able to describe oral cancer epidemiology; outline the importance of routine screening; understand how to carry out a screening programme and keeping accurate records; understand the different types of oral cancer and be able to describe the appropriate referral procedure.
Dentists working in ADG member companies have said this is the most comprehensive and interactive online module they had seen and will raise awareness amongst the whole dental team, giving them the ability to spot and treat cancer more effectively.
A further tragedy of this disease is that sometimes, the most obvious warning signs are only noticeable to a patient once the cancer has progressed. This means that it is even more important that dental health professionals are fully trained to be able to spot the early warning signs. Currently there is nothing like this module available for UK dentists and we hope it will make a big difference to patients. We urge all dental professionals to view the module and put the knowledge to good use.
- The full module is available on the ADG's website.