- DAILY EXPRESS NEWS
Oral cancer accounts for the 11th commonest form of cancer, with oral leukoplakia, as an instance, showing a prevalence (from epidemiological studies) ranging from 0.96 to 16.9 per cent for Malaysia and 0.2 to 11.7 per cent for other countries.
Annually, 268,000 new cases are diagnosed, and 128,000 deaths reported. The overall survival rate for oral cancer is less than 50 per cent over a five-year period. It has not improved in the last 30 years. The reason for this is that the disease is diagnosed only in its late stages and for the regional metastasis.
For the benefit of dental surgeons practicing in Sabah, a symposium on “Oral Cancer, What the GP can do”, organized by the Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) with the cooperation of the Dental Division of the Sabah Health Services Department, will be held on Dec 15.
“Dental surgeons, especially those in the private sector, should therefore participate in this rare opportunity,” said Dr Zaiton Hj Tahir, who is the State Coordinator for the Implementation of the National Program for Primary Prevention and Early Detection of Oral Pre-cancer and Cancer.
There will also be a hands-on course, “An Innovative Procedure in Fixing Loose Lower Complete Dentures and Long Term Mini Implants”, she added.
According to her, the MDA would be presenting three guest speakers, Dr Rosnah Zain, Dr M. Thomas Abraham and Dr Philip CS Ting.
Dr Rosnah, currently a professor and head at the Department of Oral Medicine and Periodontology, University Malaya, is also the president-elect of the Malaysian Section of the International Association of Dental Research – Southeast Asian Division. Her works involving major research in oral cancer and potentially malignant lesions – aspects on prognostic indicators and training of dentists for oral cancer screening, have been widely published in local and international journals.
Her talk would centre on “Diagnosis and Management of Leukoplakia and Lichen Planus in the Oral Cavity”. Besides oral leukoplakia, epidemiological studies have also shown a prevalence of oral lichen planus (OLP), ranging from 0.38 to 5.4 per cent for Malaysia and 0.1 to 2.3 per cent for other countries.
Management of these two lesions differs and the importance of differentiating between OLP, especially the plaque type from leukoplakia, will be highlighted in relation to the management strategies for these patients.
“The final objective of this presentation is to get general dental practitioners to know how to clinically diagnose and treat these lesions while also recognizing which type and/or at what stage a referral of such patients to specialists will be required,” said Dr Zaiton.
Dr M. Thomas, attached to Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, Klang, worked in India and United Kingdom from 1991 – 2000 before returning to Malaysia and joining the Ministry of Health at Selayang Hospital. He is currently Publications Secretary for the Malaysian Dental Journal and is also Commission Chairman, Oral Disease Asia Pacific Dental Federation.
OCF Note: Besides this news article offering an estimate of the oral cancer cases yearly worldwide (which is a low estimate by some other publications), we have included it here to show that whether in the US or Malaysia, the task to bring the death rate down from oral cancer is still the same. Public and professional awareness, and the help of the dental community to find those early lesions by doing opportunistic screening of the mouths that are in their offices every day.