Mouth Cancer - Is Your Dental Practice Doing its Bit? Tip 9

July 2, 2015

Tip 9 - Train All Staff to Talk About the 'C' Word. 

Do you talk to your patients about oral 'cancer'  when you are screening them for it? Do your reception team know how to answer questions sensitively and appropriately if patients ask about oral cancer? And do your dental nurses know how to support a patient if a referral is made for suspected oral cancer? If the answer to any of these questions is 'No' then I would suggest training your team to talk about oral cancer to support CQC outcomes 1 and 4.

The results of a new survey highlighted by the British Dental Health Foundation estimates that 90% of dentists screen for oral cancer but only a small percentage discusses what they are doing with patients. The survey also showed that 9 in 10 patients would like to be checked for the disease, however, only 14% indicated that their dentist had discussed what they were doing during a screening.

So as a profession, why do we still avoid the 'C' word? It appears that we are the ones afraid to use the word not our patients. Is this due to our fear of litigious activity if the patients knows too much? Or is it because dentists lack knowledge, confidence and experience in dealing with oral cancer management? Either way, training the team to talk about cancer in a confident, knowledgable and appropriate way will alleviate whatever it is holding us back from these essential communications. Raising awareness and teaching patients to self-screen will save lives. 

If you would like to train your team to speak to patients about the 'C' word, go to