Oral cancer knowledge and awareness among dental students|
Soares, Tânderson Rittieri Camêlo; de Almeida Carvalho, Maria Eugênia; Pinto, Lucielma Salmito Soares; Falcão, Carlos Alberto; Matos, Francisca Tereza Coelho & Santos, Tanit Clementino
Aim: To assess the knowledge and attitude of undergraduate dental students about oral cancer.
Methods: A cross-sectional, quantitative study was conducted based on a questionnaire containing
15 questions about prevention, clinical aspects, and attitudes towards oral cancer. One hundredthirty-
three undergraduate dental students between the second and fifth years were enrolled.
The statistical significance was measured by Pearson’s chi-square test. Results: There was a
predominance of females (58.65%) and most students were between 20 and 30 years of age
(75.19%). The risk factors for oral cancer mainly described by the students were smoking
(92.48%) and drinking (84.21%). Squamous cell carcinoma was described as the most common
type of oral cancer by 48.12% of the students. As much as 53.38% of the participants considered
the tongue as the most affected anatomic region, 57.89% reported ulcers as the most frequent
clinical aspect, and 44.36% attributed a firm and painless aspect to the regional metastatic lymph
nodes. Most students reported regularly conducting a thorough examination of the oral cavity
(81.95%). Two of the 15 variables showed differences between the students, according to the
school time: previous head and neck carcinoma (Pearson’s chi-square, p = 0.03) and guidance
on the discontinuation of harmful habits (Pearson’s chi-square, p = 0.02). Conclusions: Students
have a good knowledge of the etiology of oral cancer and are apparently alert in their examinations.
The clinical aspects of the oral carcinoma, however, are not so clear. The difference regarding
knowledge and attitudes towards oral cancer was minimal when different undergraduate years
were considered. It is necessary to implement the clinical suspicion of oral cancer throughout the
undergraduate course to enable awareness and early diagnosis.
oral cancer; health knowledge; attitude; practice; education; dental