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BEWARE MOUTH CANCER.

PUBLIC awareness of different types of cancer may have increased in recent years, but one form of the disease still receives little attention.

Each year, more than 6000 people in the UK are diagnosed with mouth cancer, but few know the signs to look out for or who is at risk.

According to Dr Attiq Rahman, clinical director at Visage Lifestyle Clinic in Glasgow, greater knowledge of the disease is needed among dentists, as well as the public.

He said: "Only about half of the adult population in the country is registered with a dentist, so they're not getting regular check-ups. Even then, some dentists may not be examining soft tissue in the mouth closely enough, so there's a lack of awareness not only on the part of the public, but also among the profession.

"There has been discussion recently on refreshing dentists' knowledge so they're more aware of the signs and symptoms in high-risk groups.

"Those can range from a white patch on the tongue, gum or cheek to an ulceration that won't go away."

But patients who do notice something shouldn't panic.

Dr Rahman said: "People can have white patches due to biting or trauma from lost fillings, so it's not always a sign of cancer, but dentists can decide whether the patient needs to be referred for a biopsy.

"Some white patches will come away when you scrape them as they're caused by a fungal infection, but a white patch which doesn't come away should be checked out.

"Similarly, if you've had an ulcer for two to three weeks that won't go away, it's worth having it looked at."

The type of people likely to get mouth cancer has also changed.

Dr Rahman said: "Traditionally, the two high-risk groups were smokers and people with a high consumption of alcohol, but we're now seeing younger people experiencing mouth cancer more and more.

"That's due to the human papillomavirus, which is sexually transmitted. This is the same virus that causes cervical cancer.

"It's usually young men who develop mouth cancer, so good sexual health is important.

"The other obvious steps to take are to stop smoking, to reduce consumption of alcohol and to get regular check-ups with your dentist."

Visage Lifestyle are now introducing a Veloscope scanner to check-ups, which uses light to identify early warning signs of mouth cancer.

On December 6, they are hosting an open evening in Glasgow allowing anyone to try out the technology.

Visit www.visage-health.com

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 27, 2012
Words:420
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