Lean About Referral Guidelines for Oral Cancer
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Referral Guidelines for Dentist
Dentist Assessing Patients for Mouth Cancer
- Patients should be examined for potential malignancy at every dental examination
Assessing patients for mouth cancer symptoms requires a high level of suspicion,
but many other conditions may present with similar changes. On the right are examples
of malignant and potentially malignant lesions.
The level of suspicion should be higher if the patient is a smoker or heavy alcohol
drinker, chews betel nut (areca nut) or tobacco, or is over 40 years.
Fibroepithelial polyp of the buccal mucosa
Urgent-Referral – within 2 weeks
Solitary ulcer with rolled borders on the lateral border of the tongue
Psuedomembranous candidosis of the buccal mucosa
Red patch on ventral surface of tongue and floor of mouth
Lichen planus of the buccal mucosa
Speckled lesion on left buccal mucosa
White patch on ventral surface of the tongue
Shallow ulcer on lower lip
The Referral Process For Oral Soft Tissue Lesions
If an abnormal area has been detected in the mouth, a biopsy is the only way to
know for certain whether or not it is malignant. This should be carried out in a
specialist referral centre of either oral medicine, oral and maxillofacial surgery
or plastic surgery.
Referrals should be divided into three categories (non-urgent, prompt and urgent)
according to the urgency of the referral.
It is essential for the consultant to know certain details about the patient, the
lesion, and the clinical diagnosis, in order to prioritise the waiting list.
Patient’s details including current telephone number so the patient can be contacted
to attend a clinic at short notice
- Short medical history including name and address of patient’s general medical practitioner
- Relevant social history including smoking and drinking status
Detailed description of the lesion including duration, site, size, colour, texture
and findings upon palpation
- Clinical diagnosis (or diagnoses) in order to categorise the urgency of the referral