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December JADA looks at dental patient survey data on cancer screening, smoking cessation counseling

November 21, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

Researchers analyzing patient-reported data from a national survey concluded that oral health care providers underscreen for oral and oropharyngeal cancer among high-risk groups, including current cigarette smokers, minorities and people of low socioeconomic status, according to a study published in the December issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

2019 December JADA cover


The authors of the cover story, titled "Patient-Reported Receipt of Oral Cancer Screenings and Smoking Cessation Counseling from U.S. Oral Health Care Providers: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2015 and 2016," analyzed self-reported data from the 2015 and 2016 survey for participants who reported a dental visit and found 25.85% of U.S. adults age 30 years or older who had visited an oral health care professional were screened for oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

The patient responses indicated that the likelihood of receiving an oral and oropharyngeal cancer screening was lower among current cigarette smokers than those who had never smoked and among non-Hispanic blacks, Mexican-Americans, non-Hispanic Asians and those of other races than non-Hispanic whites.

Participants with a high school education or more had higher odds of being screened and receiving smoking cessation counseling than those with less than a high school education, while patients with family incomes of 400% or more of the federal poverty threshold were more likely to be screened but less likely to receive counseling than those with family incomes of less than 100% of the threshold.

"The value of our study lies in its rigorous and validated study design. As a result, the data analyzed in our study are nationally representative and can be generalized among noninstitutionalized U.S. populations," the authors said in their discussion of the results. "Our study is not without its limits, given that the study questionnaire collected self-reported data, based solely on the participant's recollection. Moreover, the data set does not include a baseline survey response or the participant’s medical or dental records. In addition, the long recall window in NHANES (lifetime) could lead to recall bias."

They concluded the study by noting that "increased awareness of [oral cancer] and [oropharyngeal cancer] risk factors by oral health care professionals and intensified screening and counseling for [oral cancer] and [oropharyngeal cancer] and tobacco use among dental patients could improve the health of the public."

Other articles in the December issue of JADA discuss an interprofessional approach to reducing dental carious lesions during the first four years of life, the efficacy of preprocedural mouthrinses in the reduction of microorganisms in the aerosol and the association between metabolic syndrome and tooth loss.

Every month, JADA articles are published online at JADA.ADA.org in advance of the print publication.