Tariq Drabu Issues Guidance and Warns Dentists to be Aware of Mouth Cancer

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Tariq Drabu says, "We must be vigilant at all times when we examine our patients and look out for the signs and symptoms of potential mouth cancers."

Tariq Drabu

Tariq Drabu

I would urge any patients with these type of symptoms to present themselves to a dentist in order to get themselves examined. It may be something it may be nothing

Tariq Drabu, leading Manchester GDC registered dentist and the owner of Langley Dental Practice in Middleton, Manchester has today issued a strong warning for dentists to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer. His warning follows the recent acquittal in the High Court London of Ian Hughes a dentist from Hattersley who was cleared by a judge of negligently failing to spot a patient’s life-threatening oral cancer. Details of the acquittal can be found here. The case was listed in the High Court London on 16th January 2013 as case number TLQ/12/0196 Drabble v Hughes.

Speaking about the case Tariq Drabu said "the circumstances surrounding this case were really unfortunate. The dentist concerned was cleared of any negligent behaviour. Nevertheless mouth cancer is a disease that has increased by around 50% over the last 10 years. Over the next 10 years around 60,000 people will be diagnosed with this disease. Without early detection around half of these people will die. By 2030 the it is estimated that almost half a million people worldwide will die from mouth cancer."

Tariq Drabu said "Sometimes when I talk to patients they are not even aware that you can get cancer in your mouth. Here at Langley Dental Practice we make it a routine that at every regular check up of our patients we ask about and record smoking and alcohol habits which are known risk factors for mouth cancer. We also try and regularly offer preventative advice about smoking and alcohol. These are some of the frontline things that we as dentists can do in order to tackle the problem of mouth cancer. Also at every examination we do a thorough check not only of the teeth and gums but also of all the soft tissues of the mouth to detect any possible signs or warnings of mouth cancer. The majority of mouth cancer cases are linked to consumption of tobacco and alcohol. When we look at our patient population we are looking not just at cigarettes but also amongst our ethnic minority patients we are looking at issues such as habits of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan."

Tariq Drabu continued "People ask me what the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer are. A white or red patch presenting in the mouth is one of the early signs of mouth cancer. Another sign is an ulcer in the mouth sometimes painful, sometimes painless that does not heal normally after a period of around 2 to 3 weeks. I would urge any patients with these type of symptoms to present themselves to a dentist in order to get themselves examined. It may be something it may be nothing. We at Langley Dental Practice support the line that says 'If in doubt get checked out.' Most of the time it will be nothing and sometimes patients feel concerned that they have wasted our time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would rather have a dozen concerned patients who think they may have something wrong with them but are actually okay, rather than missing the one patient who really does have mouth cancer. Because it is that one patient who really does matter and who really does need our help."

Tariq Drabu pointed to the work that his media affair department undertook around Mouth Cancer Action Month in November 2012. He said "The media affair department worked with our staff and our patients during this month. We repeated the need for all our staff to advise patients on the risk factors involved with oral cancer i.e. reducing smoking and drinking. We also had patient information, which covered the topics of healthy eating, smoking cessation and sensible drinking, available in the waiting room and at reception. As well as that we have a practice policy of no-smoking, both in work areas and in the waiting room. We have involved all our staff in the development of these policies."

Tariq Drabu issued some tips for colleagues around the subject of mouth cancer. He said "Firstly at every check up or examination a soft tissue screening must be documented. Patients must also be asked about smoking and alcohol consumption. Regular audits of notes must be carried out in order to ensure that these examinations are done on a regular basis. Also dentists must ensure that they are up-to-date with their continuing professional development in terms of learning outcomes on mouth cancer."

Tariq Drabu concluded by saying "Cancer is a disease that affects us all directly or indirectly whether within our family circle or amongst friends it is a condition that has a profound impact upon all those who come across it. Our role as dental professionals is to firstly educate our patients to look out for the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer. We must also focus on the factors that cause mouth cancer such as smoking and alcohol and issue strong preventative advice to our patients to reduce smoking and alcohol consumption. Finally we must be vigilant at all times when we examine our patients and look out for the signs and symptoms of potential mouth cancers. We must work together with our patients to do whatever we can to fight this disease."


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