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Oral sex to blame for jump in mouth cancer cases

Posted by Yvonne Wallace

A leading dentist has said that oral sex is one of the main reasons behind a “significant increase” in the number of mouth cancer cases in recent years.

Dr Nigel Carter – who is the chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) – told the Times that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is expected to become the main cause of the disease over the next decade, replacing smoking in the process.

Other factors also include a poor diet and drinking alcohol.

In 2011, around 7,700 new cases of the disease were diagnosed, while 2,500 people died from it in the same year.

The BDHF’s latest figures have revealed that the number of cases of mouth cancer has risen by over 1,000 in the last year.

Dr Carter said: “There is a clear gap in public knowledge about what causes mouth cancer. Smoking and drinking to excess increase your chances of getting mouth cancer by 30 times, yet so many social smokers often light up while having a drink.”

The organisation is now calling on boys to receive the HPV vaccinations as well as girls – after a poll of 2,000 people found three out of four respondents were in favour of the move.

November 1st marks the start of Mouth Cancer Awareness Month and dental practices are being encouraged to get involved – making use of dental marketing to help get the message across and raise awareness of both the symptoms and causes of the disease.

It is hoped the annual campaign will help to increase survival rates of the disease. If it is caught early, then a patient’s chance of winning the battle against mouth cancer is 90 per cent.

However that rate is reduced to 50 per cent if it is caught later on.

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