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International Health Insurance News: Dentists 'can notice oral cancer'

People who use expatriate insurance policies to pay for dental treatment may receive an early warning that they have mouth cancer.

Science communication manager at the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) Dr Lara Bennett said some of the warning signs of the condition include red or white patches or mouth ulcers that do not heal.

Other symptoms include a persistent discomfort or pain in the mouth, she continued.

Further indications reported are pain or difficulty while swallowing, loose teeth and lumps in the neck.

The specialist noted: "Dentists play an important role in detecting oral cancer early on."

These symptoms do not necessarily mean a person has a serious condition as many other infections can cause them, she stated, advising people who are concerned to visit a medical professional.

"If someone is worried they may have oral cancer AICR recommends they visit their GP rather than their dentist," the expert declared.

Discovering whether or not a person has mouth cancer is only one reason for them to attend a dental professional, Dr Bennett pointed out.

Other benefits visiting this expert can bring include maintaining healthy gums and teeth and avoiding infections.

Men and women ought to get their mouth examined at least once every year, she noted.

Risk factors for oral cancer include the consumption of alcohol, smoking and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, the healthcare specialist remarked.

Although HPV is exceptionally common and "most cases are harmless", some can also cause genital and cervical cancers, she added.

However, scientists are uncertain as to how the virus can infect the mouth and although evidence supports the theory that oral sex is a method of transmission, "mouth-to-mouth contact" could also cause it to spread, Dr Bennett suggested.

Research is also needed to determine whether the HPV cervical cancer vaccine can prevent cancer of the mouth from developing, she asserted.

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