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Thursday 24th May 2018

Mouth cancer checks concern

22nd September 2008

The results of a new survey have shown that a large proportion of NHS dental surgeries are not giving "prompt" appointments to patients who have mouth cancer symptoms.

Dentist Chair

The survey was carried out by the Facial Surgery Research Foundation, Saving Faces, who contacted nearly 250 NHS dental surgeries in London.

The results revealed almost one third of dental receptionists did not give patients a "prompt consultation" if they were told the patient was suffering "common oral cancer symptoms".

If a patient is diagnosed early enough, their chance of surviving mouth cancer increases from under 50% to around 90%.

Consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon Professor Iain Hutchison, the chief executive of Saving Faces, said it was essential that the consultation figures improved.

"The longer you leave the cancer the greater the likelihood of it spreading which means the chances of curing it are less."

The new dental contracts, introduced two years ago in April, were designed to help patients to gain access to a health service dentist.

Primary Care Trusts were allowed to decide how much NHS work a dentist could provide.

Professor Hutchison said he thought the new system could affect how soon a patient could arrange an emergency consultation.

The survey found that 6% of the dental receptionists said they could not give any new patients an appointment "because they had used up the quota allocated by the PCT".

The Department of Health said their "advice and guidance...was to give an urgent appointment" in suspected mouth cancer cases.


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