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Scotland oral cancer awareness campaign

With oral cancers, the key is spotting early on: early detection results in a roughly 90 per cent survival rate, compared to a 50 per cent survival rate for delayed diagnosis - we campaign to raise awareness of the issues, and provide resources for dental professionals to use.

What's the problem?

Scotland has seen an increase in the incidence of oral and oropharyngeal cancers in the last 30 years and head and neck cancer incidence rates are significantly higher in Scotland than the UK average.

The risk factors for developing oral and oropharyngeal cancer include tobacco and alcohol use, as well as increasing age, and gender. 


Treatment of oral and oropharyngeal cancer involves surgical resection and reconstruction in combination with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 


What is BDA Scotland doing?

BDA Scotland's Oral Cancer Working Group aims to raise awareness among dentists, doctors and pharmacists of the increasing incidence of oral and oropharyngeal cancers.


Read our report: 'Oral cancer - A plan for action', which highlights some of the key trends in Scotland and sets our recommendations to key stakeholders.

HPV is strongly linked to the recent increase in oropharyngeal cancers. These cancers are distributed unevenly among the population with the greatest number in the most deprived areas.


We welcomed news that 12-13 year-old boys in Scotland will start receiving the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine from September 2019 as part of a universal programme reaching children of both sexes.


We have however warned that failure to offer a catch-up programme to older boys still in school will leave over 140,000 exposed to the virus and we will continue to campaign on this issue. A catch-up programme provided a model when the vaccine was first rolled out to girls.

We are also raising the profile of oral cancers with the Scottish Government, and we held an oral cancer event in November 2018 in the Scottish Parliament, sponsored by Anas Sarwar MSP.


What can dentists do?

Dentists and dental care professionals can play a leading role in reducing the impact of oral and oropharyngeal cancer in Scotland several ways:


  • Looking for oral and oropharyngeal cancer during routine oral examinations of registered patients. This may lead to a discussion on risk factor with patients.
  • Providing rapid access to an oral examination for patients who have suspected lesions found by general medical practitioners (GMPs) and pharmacists of non-registered patients by local agreement.
  • Referring suspected lesions to the local OMFS unit, or equivalent, for investigation.
  • Raising public awareness of oral and oropharyngeal cancer by taking part in the OHF's Mouth Cancer Action Month.

Useful oral cancer resources for dentists and DCPs

We encourage you to use, and share these resources with your colleagues and dental teams: 


Have you detected a case of oral cancer?

We'd love to hear what you are doing to help raise awareness during Mouth Cancer Action Month, and we are particularly keen on hearing about any stories of cases of oral cancer you have detected.

Please email and let us know if you have detected a case, or let us know what you've been doing for Mouth Cancer Action Month.

​BDA Scotland

BDA Scotland supports, represents and promotes, the interests of all dentists working in Scotland. Working with elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, and pay and contracts. Join us.