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Nurses should screen hospital patients for oral cancer

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Nurses should screen all hospital patients for oral cancer, UK researchers have suggested.

Oral cancer is as prevalent as cervical and testicular cancer in the UK, and admission provides an opportunity for nurses to assess oral health, they said.

The researchers, who questioned 121 nurses, said that their knowledge of symptoms of oral cancer was ‘poor’.

Only 21% identified white patches, 15% identified ulceration, and just 2% identified red patches, despite their malignant potential.

Although 70% identified smoking as a risk factor, fewer than 30% identified alcohol. ‘This study highlights a need for improved education of nurses to make the oral health check on admission viable for oral cancer screening,’ the authors said online in BMC Oral Health.

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