Early detection of oral cancer: a key role for dentists?

Katrin Hertrampf, Martina Jürgensen, Stefanie Wahl, Eva Baumann, Hans-Jürgen Wenz, Jörg Wiltfang, Annika Waldmann


PURPOSE: The majority of suspected malignant changes in the oral mucosa are detected by dentists in private practice. Statements regarding the effectiveness of visual examination of the oral cavity for early detection are not necessarily transferable between different health care systems. Our clinical-epidemiological and methodological aim was thus to conduct a prospective regional study in dental practices under everyday conditions, assess the frequency and type of oral mucosal changes, and evaluate the dental examination methodology.

METHODS: A prospective observational study was conducted, combining a feasibility study of early detection of oral cancer and its documentation with phase I 'modelling' to conceptualize complex interventions in health services research. Dentists in private practice continuously recruited patients over 6 months and used two different sheets for the documentation of suspicious lesions. Statistical analysis involved descriptive statistics and tests for differences (Welch test) or association (Chi-squared test).

RESULTS: Twenty-five dentists (mean age: 50 years, 24% females) participated in this study. Eleven dentists achieved the overall aim of recruiting 200 patients. Around 4200 patients (mean age: 52 years, 57.5% females) participated. The prevalence of suspicious lesions was 8.5%.

CONCLUSION: It became apparent that a study in cooperation with dentists in private practice to generate clinical-epidemiological data on the early detection of oral mucosal lesions under everyday conditions can be carried out successfully. Further studies with a corresponding level of evidence should be carried out to be able to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the early detection measure under everyday practice conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1375-1387
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 06.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Center for Population Medicine and Public Health (ZBV)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-14 Haematology, Oncology
  • 205-02 Public Health, Health Services Research and Social Medicine


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