Mouth cancer ‘affects one in seven of us’

Mouth cancer affects one-in-seven people in the UK, according to new research.
Mouth cancer affects one-in-seven people in the UK, according to new research.

Growing mouth cancer rates means one in seven of us know someone affected by the disease. New research for the British Dental Health Foundation looked into whether we knew people diagnosed with mouth cancer, a survivor or still battling mouth cancer and the number of mouth cancer scares someone close to them had experienced and found one in seven people knew someone affected by the disease.

With cases of mouth cancer approaching 7,000 and deaths exceeding 2,000 for the first time, mouth cancer campaigners believe more people could soon know someone affected.

The results have been published to raise awareness of the disease. The campaign, sponsored by Denplan, will be aiming to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by increasing education of the risk factors and signs and symptoms while encouraging everybody to discuss them with their dental professional.

The disease has grown by a third in the last decade – and remains one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years.

Although there are risk factors heavily linked to the disease, mouth cancer can affect anybody. That’s why it’s so important that we all know what to look out for. An ulcer that does not heal within three weeks, an unusual lump or swelling or red and white patch in your mouth could be the sign of mouth cancer.

The survey also discovered only one per cent of people asked knew how to self-examine for the disease. Given how important early detection is, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, urges everyone to use the campaign as a springboard for finding out more.

Dr Carter said: “It is quite simple – knowing what to look for could save your life. Early detection of the disease can give you a near 90 per cent chance of survival. If you present with symptoms that you have been unaware of or have left for too long, your chances of surviving drop to 50 per cent.”

Henry Clover, Deputy Chief Dental Officer at Denplan, said: “With cases steadily rising, it’s never been more important for people to be aware of mouth cancer – and the fact that it can affect anyone. Most people have heard of other cancers such as lung and breast cancer and their associated risks and symptoms; however knowledge of mouth cancer is still relatively low in comparison. Through Mouth Cancer Action Month, we want to push mouth cancer to the forefront of peoples’ minds so that it can be detected early and more effectively treated, which is so important to survival rates.”


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