Evaluation of head and neck cancer education at European dental schools

Marcella R. Poelman, Henk S. Brand*, Laura Foppen, Jan G. A. M. de Visscher, Derk H. Jan Jager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: In Europe, approximately 150.000 patients are diagnosed with head and neck cancer annually. Dentists play an important role in prevention and detection at an early stage when survival rates are best. This study aims to evaluate content of head and neck cancer education curricula of European dental schools. Materials and Methods: A questionnaire, comprising 20 questions about content of curricula and teaching methods, was distributed to the deans of all 234 members of the Association for Dental Education in Europe. Results: The response rate was 24%. All dental schools included head and neck cancer screening practices in their curricula, two-thirds had their students perform this screening on all patients routinely and education was mostly divided over various courses (65%). A variation in content of education in screening practices and counselling patients about various risk factors was reported. Alcohol and tobacco use were included in most curricula as risk factors for head and neck cancer (98%), gastro-oesophageal reflux was less frequently included (41%). The human papillomavirus (HPV) as a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer was included in 94% of curricula and 87% also contained education about strategies to discuss prevention of HPV-related cancer. No association was found between curricula containing strategies about discussing HPV-related cancer and inclusion of the HPV vaccine in national immunisation programmes. Conclusion: Head and neck cancer teaching programmes show a considerable variation across European dental schools. Development of a unified teaching programme suitable for all European dental schools seems warranted.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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