PATIENTS infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) are at a greater risk of developing mouth cancer, according to a new research published the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers in Texas found that patients with HCV seropositivity were more than twice as likely to develop either cancers in the mouth cavity or of the oropharynx.
More than 200,000 people in the UK are estimated to suffer from chronic HCV infection and the health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, is calling for increased awareness of the risks associated with HCV infection. It encourages patients who have been diagnosed with the Hepatitis C virus to be extra vigilant to changes in their mouth and to visit their doctor of dentists as soon as possible if detecting anything unusual.
CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: "Hepatitis C patients should ensure they are receiving specialist and constant dental care to ensure that if they do develop signs or symptoms of mouth cancer they have every fighting chance to overcome it."
The research team also found that patients who tested positive for HCV were also more likely to test positive for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - which is predicted to overtake smoking as the leading cause of mouth cancer within the next decade.
Dr Carter added: "Mouth cancer in the UK has increased by more than a third (39 per cent) in the last decade alone and by more than nine-tenths (92 per cent) since the late 1970s, we believe much of this is due to a marked increased in the prevalence of HPV."