Moldova, Belarus, and Armenia are post-Soviet countries with a high rate of heavy smokers and a relatively high age-standardized incidence of oral cancer. However, to our knowledge, there is lack of available information on dentists’ knowledge on prevention of oral cancer in the countries in question. Accordingly, this study aimed to assess the knowledge, opinions, and practices related to oral cancer prevention and oral mucosal examination among dentists in Moldova, Belarus, and Armenia.
This was a multi-country, cross-sectional study based on a self-administered questionnaire. A structured questionnaire was distributed to 3534 dentists (797 in Chisinau, Moldova, 1349 in Minsk, Belarus, and 1388 in Yerevan, Armenia). Dentists' knowledge about risk factors for oral cancer development and its clinical picture, current practices and opinions with regard to oral mucosal screening and oral cancer prevention, and their consistency to perform oral mucosal examination were assessed. A knowledge score ranging from 0 to 14 points was generated based on each dentist’s answer to the questionnaire.
A total of 1316 dentists responded, achieving an overall response rate of 37.2% (34.5% in Moldova; 52.3% in Belarus; 24.2% in Armenia). Most dentists in the three countries correctly identified tobacco (83.8–98.2%) and prior oral cancer lesions (84.0–96.3%) as risk factors for oral cancer. Most dentists correctly identified leukoplakia as a lesion with malignant potential (68.7% in Moldova; 88.5% in Belarus; 69.9% in Armenia), while erythroplakia was identified by much fewer in all three countries. Less than 52% of dentists identified the tongue, rim of tongue, and floor of mouth as the most common sites for oral cancer. The mean knowledge score for all countries combined was 7.5 ± 2.7. The most commonly reported barriers to perform oral mucosal examination were lack of training, knowledge, and experience.
This study highlights the need for improved oral cancer-related education and training on oral mucosal examination for dentists in Moldova, Belarus, and Armenia. Such skills are essential to enhance oral cancer prevention and to improve the prognostic outcome by early detection.||en_US