LONDON, November 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Mouth cancer (also called oral cancer) is a malignant growth which can occur in any part of the mouth including the lips and tongue. In the UK, the numbers of new cases have risen by over 41 per cent over the last ten years(1). About 5,325 people get cancer of the mouth each year and the disease kills one person every five hours. Treated in its early stages, mouth cancer is curable but if not detected early, it kills around one in two sufferers.

Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not. Smoking, or chewing tobacco (or betel quid/paan/gutkha), greatly increases your chances of getting mouth cancer. Heavy drinking is also a risk. If you do both, your chances of getting mouth cancer are much greater. This cancer is more common in men than women and more likely to occur in people age 40 years and older. Experts today, however, are concerned about rising numbers of this cancer in younger age groups. The HPV virus from sexual contact is believed to account for this.

Mouth cancers often appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally or, less often, as a red or white patch in the mouth. Dental Authorities seek to encourage people to understand their level of risk for the disease and to advise dentists to be vigilant in their examination procedures. A dentist is trained and in the best position to examine for early signs of this disease.

The routine dental examination procedure is quick, simple, completely painless and requires no injection. The dentist carefully examines the inside of the mouth with the help of a small mirror. Remember, the dentist is able to see parts of your mouth that you cannot see easily yourself.

Many UK dental practices now offer a mouth cancer screening service which aims to increase your awareness of your own level of risk for the disease and to help you reduce that risk by changing your lifestyle habits.

In addition to this lifestyle counselling and regular screening, dental practices can now offer patients an extended test using a new mouth cancer screening system which can identify abnormal areas of the mouth, identifying areas of potential risk even before they become cancer. The latest system is called ViziLite Plus which is used extensively in the USA as an aid to early detection and has been widely introduced into the UK.

If you drink heavily, smoke or use tobacco in any form, you may be at high risk. You are advised to contact your dentist, doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns. If in doubt - get checked out.

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For more information visit ViziLite Plus is a registered trademark of Zila Inc, USA Reference (1) Cancer Research UK (2009) UK oral cancer mortality statistics. end_tabler

SOURCE: Scope Dental Professional Relations