Delays in Referral of Oral Cancer Patients, A10 yr Retrospective Study at Base Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria
The study attempts to find out who delays in the management of oral cancer patients viz: the General Medical Practitioner (GMP), the Consultants or on the other hand, the patients. All oral cancer patients referred to our Hospital between 1987 and 1996 were reviewed. The most important findings are that 68 patients were referred with suspicious oral lesions, out of 54 (79.4%) had histologically confirmed oral Cancer. The delay in referral patterns by both GMP and GDP are similar since most of their patients were not referred until 6 months after initial examination. Only 16% and 21% of their patients respectively, were referred within the first month. In contrast to this trend, the consultants referred 45.4% of their patients within the first month. Thus the GMP and GDP are more culpable than consultants in the delay of patients' referral. The patient's delay in seeking medical treatment after noticing symptoms of their oral cancer was the most significant factor as only 6.1% consulted doctor within one month, while 62.3% failed to consult until over one year. In conclusion, a public enlightenment programme to increase awareness of oral cancer is stressed. In addition, a 3 monthly review of suspicious lesions such as oral leukoplakia, candidiasis, erythroplakia by practitioners is suggested. A yearly oral screen for the over 40's with papaconilau 2- stage staining procedure is recommended.
NQJHM Vol. 14 (1) 2004: pp. 81-83