Dentists urged to play an active role in HPV detection and prevention amid rise in oral cancer cases

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Dentists have been urged to play a more active role in discussing safe sex habits with patients in a bid to combat rising rates of oral cancer linked to HPV exposure. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a very common sexually-transmitted infection.

Public health experts have called for dentists to speak to patients about HPV as part of an effort to reduce rates of oral cancer. Oral cancer, sometimes referred to as mouth cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the soft tissue in the throat and mouth. The main risk factors are smoking and drinking alcohol, but a growing number of cases is linked to HPV infection. HPV doesn’t usually cause any problems, but certain strains of the virus are linked to an elevated risk of oral cancer. HPV can also increase the risk of cervical cancer.

A new report, which has been published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, claims that dentists should play a bigger part in detecting HPV. According to data used by researchers, including Ellen Daley, a professor at the University of South Florida, HPV is linked to seven different types of cancer and trends indicate that HPV is going to become an increasingly common cause of cancer in the future.

Dr Daley is not suggesting that dentists start discussing their patient’s sex life in detail, but it is likely that dentists could play a more influential role in detecting HPV cases and talking to patients about the potential risks associated with the virus.

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