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Dentists urged to help fight cancer

Wednesday September 26th 2012

Cancer Research UK has asked dentists to help curb rising rates of oral cancer by taking an active interest in their patients' personal lives.

The charity believes that dentists can help to reduce the number of lives lost to the disease by identifying high-risk patients.

Death rates are predicted to increase by around 22% in the next 20 years. Smoking, drinking and sexual behaviour are all thought to be contributory factors.

Hazel Nunn, head of health evidence and information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Dentists should be asking their patients if they smoke or drink heavily. That doesn't necessarily mean following up with a lecture, but they should be aware."

Infection rates for oral cancer are on the increase. In 2009, there were 6,240 diagnosed cases of the disease, compared to 3,030 in 1984. Oral cancer can affect the gums, cheek lining, tongue, lips, palate and floor of the mouth.

With 9,200 cases expected each year by 2030, dentists have an important role to play in combating the disease, it is believed.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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