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Article: Volume 41 Number 2 Page 111 - March 2014

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  Dent Update 2014; 41: 111-118

Medicine in Dentistry:  A Guide to Skin Cancer of the Face for the Dental Team

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Abstract: The incidence of skin cancer in the United Kingdom is increasing and is associated with an ageing population and increasing lifetime exposure to sunlight. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, all three of which may present on the skin of the face. The dental team are, therefore, well-placed to recognize suspicious lesions and arrange for further advice or assessment. This paper outlines the epidemiology, important clinical features and principles of modern management of facial skin cancers to aid dental practitioners in the recognition of suspicious lesions. In addition, some of these treatments have side-effects which have the potential to affect a patient’s oral health or its management and these aspects are also discussed.

Clinical relevance: The dental surgeon is ideally placed to recognize malignant or potentially malignant lesions on patients’ faces and to advise on seeking further advice or refer for assessment, as appropriate. Dental practitioners will increasingly encounter patients who have undergone surgical or non-surgical management of facial skin cancer and should understand the potential oro-facial side-effects of such treatment.

Author notes: Barry Main, MRCS(Ed), MFDS(Ed), MB ChB(Hons), BDS(Hons), BMSc(Hons), Lecturer and Specialty Registrar, Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol, BS1 2LY, Andrew Felstead, BDS, MB ChB, FDS RCS, FRCS(OMFS), Consultant, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Royal United Hospital, Combe Park, Bath, BA1 3NG, Ceri Hughes, BDS, FDS RCS, MB ChB, FRCS(OMFS), FRACDS(OMS), Consultant, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol, BS1 2LY and Steve Thomas, BDS, MB ChB, PhD, FDS RCS, FRCS(OMFS), Professor and Consultant in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Bristol, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol, BS1 2LY, UK.

Objective: To comprehend the basic epidemiology of skin cancer in the UK and appreciate that it is a growing health problem. Also, to recognize the main clinical features and apply management principles for the most common skin cancers presenting on the face and to understand when it is appropriate to refer patients for further advice.