Half the population ignore mouth cancer symptoms

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Half the population would ignore symptoms of mouth cancer, according to a new study
Half the population would ignore symptoms of mouth cancer, according to a new study

Half of people would leave a non-healing mouth ulcer longer than recommended, potentially leaving a mouth cancer symptom going undetected, according to new research conducted last month by the British Dental Health Foundation.

The survey of 2044 people found only 49 per cent of people would seek medical advice within less than four weeks if they had a mouth ulcer. More than one in three (37 per cent) would seek medical advice within 1-2 months, and of even greater concern one in 14 people (7 per cent) would leave it longer than three months.

The results are in stark contrast to other signs and symptoms of the disease. Almost three in every four people (71 per cent) would seek medical advice within four weeks if they had an unusual lump or swelling, and a similar amount (69 per cent) would do likewise if they noticed red and white patches in the mouth.

The results make for worrying reading for oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation. Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE said: “It is of great concern that only half of people know how long they should wait before seeking medical advice over a mouth ulcer.

“Early detection is absolutely crucial in transforming survival rates, and those leaving a mouth ulcer longer than three weeks are potentially risking a late diagnosis, something that reduces five year survival rates to as low as 50 per cent. With the benefit of early diagnosis, survival rates can increase to up to 90 per cent.

“Classic symptoms of mouth cancer include ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth. Through tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, a poor diet and exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV), often transmitted via oral sex, individuals place themselves at risk from a disease that kills more people than cervical and testicular cancer combined.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Chronically ulcerated periodontal tissues are a fact of life for the majority of modern man and therefore, why should ulceration through neoplasia be perceived as a threat? Normally healthy tissues would obviously create alarm upon noticing an ulcer but with sadly ineffective plaque removal this is denied to the unfortunate majority. The exposure of germinal layers to carcinogens makes chronic periodontitis also a possible pre-existing condition increasing the potential for mouth cancer.

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