Pakistan has one of the highest incidence rates of oral cancer worldwide. Early detection is extremely important to lower down the morbidity and mortality rates. The major risk factors in Pakistan are tobacco and betel nut. The objective of this study is to evaluate awareness of oral cancer and understanding of the initial signs and risk factors related to oral cancer among undergraduate medical and dental students and to identify the changes and improvements required in the teaching strategies.
It was a cross-sectional study that was conducted among 400 medical and dental undergraduate students of Bahria Medical and Dental University. The tool used to evaluate awareness of oral cancer was a self-administered questionnaire adapted from Carter to Odgen. The collected data was analysed using SPSS software (v-16) to calculate mean descriptive and percentages of the awareness about early signs and risk factors of oral cancer among undergraduate medical and dental students.
RESULTS: Significantly more dental (67.5%) than medical students (23.5 %) were found to routinely examine the oral mucosa. Tobacco and betel nut were the most commonly recognized risk factors by both medical and dental students. Chronic, non-healing ulcer was identified as the common change associated with oral cancer. Only 6% of the total students felt very well informed about oral cancer.
CONCLUSION: This study indicates a need of more awareness with upgradation of the curriculum for both medical and dental students. Moreover awareness programs and campaigns for oral cancer should be held periodically to enhance the awareness of undergraduate students.
Oral Cancer, Awareness, risk factors, undergraduate students, Oral Mucosal Changes, Diagnosis, Medical, Dental