Diabetes increases the risk for head and neck cancer (HNC), researchers have found. Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer, with an estimated 650,000 new cancer cases and 350,000 cancer deaths worldwide each year.
The study, carried out by researchers at the Tainan University of Technology in Taiwan, found that patients with diabetes were almost twice more likely to develop HNC than those without diabetes. HNC in the oral cavity had the highest incidence, and those with diabetes ages 40-65 were found to be most at risk.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, thinks the research could help to identify at-risk groups. He said: “This could be a very significant piece of research, and one that could help to save many lives. Diabetes has previously been linked to poor oral health, yet this is the first time it has been linked to mouth cancer.
“This makes regular dental visits an absolute must. If your dentists know that you are diabetic, they will check your mouth accordingly, especially if it could help to catch mouth cancer.
“It is important, not just for diabetics but for everyone to be aware of what the signs and symptoms of the disease are. Ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth could be early warning signs of mouth cancer. If you experience any of these visit your dentist immediately.”