Opportunistic screening of suspected oral precancerous lesions among patients attending outpatient department of primary health centres, Puducherry
Keywords:Opportunistic screening, Primary health care center, Oral pre-malignant lesions
Background: Oral cancer ranks among the top three types of cancer in India. Opportunistic screening of the oral cavity at an early stage could potentially offer long-term survival, improve treatment outcomes, and makes health care affordable for oral cancer patients. The objective is to determine the proportion of suspected oral precancerous lesions among the patients attending the outpatient department of the Primary Health Centres of Puducherry (PHC) by opportunistic screening through visual inspection.
Methods: This study was a facility-based cross-sectional study, conducted at the outpatient department of one urban and one rural primary health centre of Puducherry. Twelve hundred individuals aged above 18 years were opportunistically screened at the outpatient department using systematic random sampling. The oral examination was done through visual inspection, and socio-demographic characteristics were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire.
Results: The prevalence of suspected oral precancerous lesions was 14.3%, of which (18.5%) in rural areas and (10%) in urban areas. The study revealed that 32.1% of the study participants were in 46-60 years with female predominance of 63.3%. A high prevalence of suspected oral precancerous lesions was seen among the age group >60 years (21.8%) and males (19.1%). Smoking, chewing tobacco/betel quid, and alcohol consumption were the risk factors associated with the prevalence of suspected oral precancerous lesions.
Conclusions: Further confirmation of those diagnosed positive for suspected precancerous oral lesions, appropriate follow-up, and treatment of the lesions. Opportunistic screening for all individuals above 30 years of age for suspected oral precancerous lesions is recommended and feasible in primary healthcare settings.
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