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17/11/2004 - What causes mouth cancer in children?

John Hamburger, a senior lecturer at Birmingham Dental Hospital, has warned of an increase in mouth cancer among teenagers and children in the West Midlands.

Smoking and drinking heavily are usually associated with increasing the risk of developing mouth cancer, and may be implicated in the rise in teenage cancers, but these factors are unlikely to account for the higher levels in incidence in children.

Eileen O'Connor, a Sutton Coldfield resident is convinced that the rise in children's cancer is more likely to be linked to mobile phone use. Youngsters are not following the advice of the Department of Health to use their phones in emergencies only, and are often heavy mobile phone users. Children wearing braces may be even more at risk. It would be informative if John Hamburger could comment on whether there was a higher incidence in children wearing braces.

The majority of mouth cancers can be detected at routine dental check ups, and early tumours can be successfully treated. However, due to the shortage of dentists, the latest advice has been to reduce visits to once every two years.