In the last few days of Mouth Cancer Action Month, it’s important to remind people of why it needs awareness.
Cancer Research UK has revealed that rates of mouth cancer have jumped by 68% in the UK over the last 20 years. It’s the 11th most common cancer in the UK and it has a 50% survival rate. However, with the right awareness and early identification survival rates can rise to around 90%.
The figures have been released during this years Mouth Cancer Action Month. They reveal the cancer is on the rise for men and women. Climbing from eight to 13 cases per 100,000 people over the last two decades. Although mouth cancer is more common in men, the rates are rising just as fast for women.
The British Dental Association (BDA) has commented on this new evidence, stating that dentists play a vital role in detection of oral cancers. The BDA have collaborated with Cancer Research UK on an oral cancer toolkit, which you can read more about in one of our old blogs. The aim of this toolkit is to help dentists and health practitioners spot the disease and refer suspected cases sooner.
What causes it?
There are many factors and risks that may lead to mouth cancer. Around nine in 10 cases are linked to lifestyle and other risk factors. Smoking is the biggest avoidable risk factor, linked to an estimated 65% of cases. Other risk factors include excessive consumption of alcohol, diets low in fruit and vegetables, and infections with the HPV.
Currently the HPV vaccine is offered to high school girls, however not high school boys. The main aim of the HPV vaccine is to prevent cervical cancer. But, in men it may prevent genital warts, anal cancer, the spread of HPV to sexual partners and mouth cancer. Like many in the medical profession, The BDA supports blanket immunisation against the human papillomavirus (HPV).
As you can expect, dentists across the country have been raising awareness for Mouth Cancer Action Month. This years efforts include the ‘Blue Lip Selfie’, which some of our featured listings have been posting enthusiastically!
Along with these selfies, a lot of dentists have been promoting free dental and oral checks to look for any signs of mouth cancer.
Russ Ladwa, chair of the health and science committee at the BDA said:
“Oral cancer is on the rise, yet half of adults are not seeing a dentist. Early detection is key, and a check-up can mean the difference between a 90% and 50% survival rate.”
“When survival rates for many cancers are improving, it’s high time ministers delivered a strategy and effective messages so the public really understand the risks.”
Professor Peter Brennan helped during the development of the toolkit. He believes toolkit should greatly help GPs, dentists and nurses to spot the warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer and precancerous conditions, and refer patients on for prompt specialist treatment. He said:
“Not only is oral cancer becoming more common, but earlier data has shown that mortality rates from the disease are also on the rise. The greatest chance of cure is to treat the disease at an early stage – before it has spread. Once this happens, the disease becomes more difficult to treat and survival reduces by up to 50% over five years.”
Mouth cancer is serious but it is also something that can be overcome. If you wish to find out what the symptoms of oral cancer are you can read our blog ‘Oral Cancer Symptoms You Should Watch Out For’.
If you think you are experiencing any symptoms, contact your dentist or GP immediately.