Posted by Joanne Mellor
A dental conference has aimed to raise awareness of the importance of catching cases of mouth cancer at an early stage.
Incidences of the disease are up by 40 per cent over the course of the last decade and it is increasingly affecting younger people.
Johnny Hiscocks, a dentist at Edinburgh’s New Town Dental Care, explained it used to be the case that mouth cancer was usually only diagnosed in older adults.
Speaking to STV, he noted this is no longer true, as many younger people are developing mouth cancer, which may be down to increased levels of smoking and drinking to excess.
“As yet, there is no explanation for these cases but potential risk factors could be poor diet, the spread of certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and even a possible lack of sunshine,” Mr Hiscocks said.
He explained around one in ten of the cases of mouth cancer in young people occur in individuals who do not smoke or drink, so more work needs to be done to find out the cause.
“By identifying cases early we hope this will not only lead to better survival rates but that research will help pinpoint the causes,” said the specialist.
Mr Hiscocks noted one of the signs of mouth cancer to be aware of is red or white patches or ulcers that have been present for more than two weeks and told anyone who has this symptom that they need to get checked out by a dentist as soon as possible.
An annual study day has been held at Glasgow Science Centre in aid of the Ben Walton Trust to raise awareness of the dangers of mouth cancer, which kills more people in the UK than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined.
The British Dental Health Foundation recently put on a range of events as part of Mouth Cancer Action Month to widen public understanding of the disease.