oral cancerBDA Scotland warns that extending check up intervals to more than 12 months could jeopardise efforts to tackle oral cancer.

The Oral Health Improvement Plan (OHIP) suggests seeing ‘lower risk’ patients once every two years.

Oral cancer can occur in patients with good oral health, the association says, with around five cases diagnosed every day.

‘Dentists are on the front line of a battle against some the fastest rising cancers in Scotland,’ David Cross, vice-chair of the BDA’s Scottish Council, said.

‘Early detection is key, but now risks becoming a casualty of a cost-cutting exercise.

‘People in otherwise good health are succumbing to this disease.

‘Telling our “lower risk” patients to come back in two years will only handicap efforts to meet a growing threat.

‘Whilst also putting further pressure on NHS cancer services.’

Increasing numbers

Oral cancer cases now cost NHS Scotland up to £90,000 per patient – £65 million annually.

This amount is set to double by 2035 if the disease goes unchecked, BDA Scotland warns.

Deaths from oral cancer have risen by 37% in the last decade in Scotland, with deprived communities twice as likely to be diagnosed.

‘Oral cancer now claims three times as many lives in Scotland as car accidents,’ David Cross continued.

‘Rather than chasing quick savings we need to see concrete plans and real investment to help turn the tables on this devastating but preventable disease.’