Ep. 4: Oral Cancer Detection & Advancement


Professor Dr Rosnah Binti Zain is currently the Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, MAHSA University in Malaysia. She was with the University of Malaya for more than 35 years with more than 15 years as an administrator including as Dean at the Faculty of Dentistry (2010-2014). Her role in these positions involved managing curriculum and its development; and managing the dental services centre (including management of human resource and dental patients’ services). Her experiences in the education area entails being involved as the Chair of Document Preparation for Assessments in preparation for the University of Malaya ‘SEl-Audit’ for Programme accreditation; Evaluation Panel for the Accreditation of Dental Programme for the Malaysian Quality Agency (MQA) and a pro-tem committee member of the Professional Qualifying Examination for Dentistry and a member of the National Board for the Accreditaion of Specialty Postgraduate Programmes. As the Dean at University of Malaya, she is responsible in initiating and developing Research in Dentistry in general for the University; and Oral Cancer Research in particular for the University of Malaya and Malaysia.


Extra questions we asked Dr:

Question: In your opinion, how can the dental community utilise oral detect to its fullest potential

Prof. Rosnah: okay, I don’t think oral detect can be used as a community tool or used by the dental community by themselves. The oral detect is actually a training programme. So, what I do is I train specialists to acculturate the rest of the dental community. So that is basically what it is. however, this can be an online training programme which I had not developed. But once it is made into an online training programme, I think we can get the dental community to self-train themselves what is the future.


Question: Oh no I see. So now that oral cancer can be detected, how is the success rate or oral cancer treatment?

Prof. Rosnah: okay, sad to say most of the cancer in Malaysia, is still detected in a very late stage, which is 60%. So, if they are detected in an early stage, then the success rate or the cure rate would be almost 80 percent. I mean we see this data from the western world. In Malaysia I believe it will be the same but I don’t think we have reported date. The researches will have their own data.


Question: So, is the rate going to change in the future? Or oral cancer be eradicated completely

Prof. Rosnah: is the rate going to change in the future? Um. We have been have in for the last two decades, we’ve worked on early detection, it is still at 50 percent or more of poor survival but if we look at different countries, perhaps there are some improvement in these countries because we don’t have the data there. Could oral cancer be eradicated completely? To be eradicated completely is difficult to say because it is not an infectious disease. It is something that is genetic. I mean I’m not talking about hereditary disease, I’m talking about there is lot of genetics involved in different patients. So, it’s not like for oral cancer you got this single set of genes. I mean you have multiple set of genes that we call it heterogenous.


Question: So prof. Rosnah, what is society’s view on oral cancer, and are the views changing?

Prof. Rosnah: the society’s view again it depends. Is it the view of the policy makers? Or the view of the public at large. Okay. Public at large. Because they don’t see oral cancer so often, so they sort of not quite aware until we come out and talk about it. Sad to say, when we come out to talk about is, some used to say, “we hardly see them”, so that is the view. in terms of the view of the policy makers, when oral health division is strongly going into it, of we talk about overall, erm, of example OCRCC trying to get fund and all that, it is not so easy just for oral cancer. People will give, for cancer, but for oral cancer, people will say, “what? Just the mouth?” right, however, what people do not see is the debilitation of the oral cancer, the mortality rate, if you compare it with other cancers, is high and because of that our prevalence is not that high, I think there is still a lot of things we should do.


Important links related to Prof. Dr Rosnah’s work

  • Oral Cancer Research and Coordinating Centre links

Website link: https://www.um.edu.my/oral-cancer-research-and-coordinating-centre/about-us

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/Oral-Cancer-Research-Coordinating-Centre-123637974668377/

  •  Malaysia Oral Cancer Database and Tissue Bank (MOCDTB) System

Website link: https://www.um.edu.my/resources/research-gallery/malaysian-oral-cancer-database-and-tissue-bank-(mocdtb)-system