Delay In Diagnosis Of Oral Cancer In Malaysia: A Study Of Five Centres


  • S P Khoo Department of Oral Pathology, Oral Medicine & Periodontology, University Malaya
  • Palasuntharam Shanmuhasuntharam Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Faculty of Dentistry, University of Malaya
  • Wan Mahadzir Mustafa Specialist, Hospital Besar Kota Baru
  • K K Tay Specialist, Hospital Umum Sarawak
  • A Latif Specialist, Hospital Besar Kuala Terengganu
  • S Nair Specialist, Hospital Besar Melaka



oral carcinoma, detection, Malaysia


The diagnosis of oral cancer have been variously reported as being due to delay by clinicians, patients or both. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the referral pattern of 65 patients eventually diagnosed as having oral squamous cell carcinoma. The results showed that 50% of the patients delayed seeking professional help for more than 3 months after being aware of the lesion. The majority of the patients consulted medical practitioners as the first source of help. The mean clinicians' and patients' delay were 10.3 weeks and 28.9 weeks respectively. Dental practitioners showed a tendency to refer on more advanced lesions compared to the medical practitioners. The findings raise the concern that lack of patients' awareness, misdiagnosis by clinicians and late detection by dental practitioners prevail thus calling for urgent measures towards early detection of the disease.


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Original/Research Article