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Health / Permanent local audiology service expected to resume early next year

NHS Shetland is also raising awareness of mouth cancer this month

Photo: Shetland News

NHS Shetland expects to restore a permanent local audiology service in January following a successful recruitment campaign.

The health board has been without a permanent audiologist since June, and this has resulted in patients waiting longer to access the service.

A spokesperson for NHS Shetland said: “NHS Grampian and NHS Highland have been supporting us with occasional clinics enabling us to see urgent cases on a clinical priority basis.

“All cases are reviewed and those that cannot wait for the next available clinic in Shetland will be referred to NHS Grampian but this will be limited to the most urgent cases.

“For all other urgent and routine appointments, we thank patients for their patience and will invite them for an appointment at the next available clinic, based on an assessment of their clinical need.”

Meanwhile NHS Shetland is marking Mouth Cancer Action Month in November.

Mouth cancer cases are on the increase in the UK with over 8,800 new cases diagnosed in the UK alone last year.

For reasons not yet fully understood, mouth cancer is on the increase, with the incidence rising by 49 per cent over the past 10 years making it the eighth most common malignancy.

Mouth cancer campaigners are encouraging everyone to carry out regular self-checks at home, for any of the signs or symptoms of mouth cancer.

To support this year’s campaign, the public dental service is offering two free mouth cancer screening sessions for anyone with concerns, whether they are registered with a dentist or not:

  • Tuesday 7 November, from 6pm-8pm at the Dental Suite (Outpatients Dept), Gilbert Bain Hospital, Lerwick
  • Thursday 23 November, from 2pm-4pm at the Gilbertson Park Games Hall, Lerwick

Oral health improvement nurse Angela Hopwood said: “We are asking people in Shetland to be #MouthAware. Using this hashtag on social media will also provide further information about preventing mouth cancer.

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“Carrying out a 45-second check of your mouth just once a month can greatly reduce the risks of late diagnosis. All you need is a bathroom mirror and a decent light source.

“Mouth cancer, although not always, is often linked to lifestyle factors. These include tobacco use, and excessive drinking of alcohol which combined with smoking can increase the risk by up to 30 times.

“The full reason for this is not fully understood however it appears that alcohol increases the rate at which nicotine is absorbed into the oral soft tissues.

“Poor diets low in fresh fruit and vegetables are also a concern as is the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) which is transmitted through oral sex.

“Excessive sunlight is also a factor in cancers of the lip, especially for those who spend time outdoors like builders or crofters.”

She said to to reduce the risk of mouth cancer, people are encouraged to drink within recommended limits, and to stop smoking.

People can contact Quit Your Way at Healthy Shetland on 01595 807494 for support regarding stopping smoking.

Folk are also encouraged to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, practice safer sex and wear lip salve with an SPF of at least 20 when spending extended periods outdoors.

“Traditionally mouth cancer has been most common in men over the age of 55, however, we are now seeing cases in much younger adults of both sexes, so it is vital that everyone is aware of any unusual changes within their mouth,” Hopwood said.

“Get to know your mouth, find out what is ‘normal’ for you and for anything unusual or of concern, please see your GP or a dentist urgently.

“What you should be looking for are any non-healing mouth ulcers that last longer than two to three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth or throat, any lumps, bumps or swellings or unexplained pain or discomfort or difficulty eating, speaking or swallowing.

“Often these may be nothing to worry about, but it is always best to get them examined. No doctor or dentist is going to think that you are wasting their time so ‘If in doubt, get checked out’.”

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