Awareness and Knowledge of Oral Cancer and Potentially Malignant Oral Disorders among Dental Patients in Far North Queensland, Australia


Background: Public awareness/knowledge on oral and pharyngeal cancer (OPC), potentially malignantdisorders (PMODs) and their risk factors is crucial for prevention and early detection of OPC and PMODs.Yet, there are no published data available on the awareness and knowledge of OPC and PMODs among peopleliving in Far North Queensland, Australia. Materials and
Methods: This study was conducted as a crosssectional survey. A self-administered questionnaire was designed and consisted of relevant questions to ascertainsocio-demographic information, awareness and knowledge of OPC, PMODs and risk factors and questions onparticipant’s exposure to risk factors and dietary history were also included. Survey was carried out at theDental Clinic of the James Cook University School of Dentistry (JCU Dental), Cairns, Australia. Subjects abovethe age of 20 years (n=366) were randomly selected during the period from 31st July to 6th September 2013and questionnaire was distributed to complete while they are waiting for treatment. Data analysis was carriedout using SPSS version 21 and the chi -squared test was employed to compare groups. P<0.05 was consideredstatistically significant.
Results: The study revealed that 52.3% of the respondents were aware of the existenceof OPC but only 19.0% were aware of PMODs. Of those who were aware of oral cancer, 92% agreed or stronglyagreed that smoking is a strong risk factor for OPC. Similarly a relatively high proportion of the respondentsagreed or strongly agreed that tobacco chewing (84%), tobacco chewing with areca nut (68%), chewing arecanut alone (51%) and exposure to actinic radiation (71%) as risk factors. However, the results for alcohol intake,age, and HPV infection were found to be relatively poor with proportions 33%, 34%, and 23% respectively.
Conclusions: This study revealed an alarming lack of awareness and knowledge of OPC and PMODs.