Do You Know The Signs Of Mouth Cancer?


A new report from the Oral Health Foundation has revealed that rates of mouth cancer in the UK have increased significantly in the past decade.

The charity revealed that 8,300 people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK every year, which represents a 49 per cent increase on ten years ago. However, what’s just as worrying is that the majority of people in the country have little or no understanding of the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

In fact, 45 per cent of those surveyed said they had no understanding of mouth cancer, while 75 per cent said that they did not know the symptoms.

An even higher percentage (82 per cent) admitted they didn’t know where mouth cancer appeared. This lack of understanding of the condition could mean people are not seeking the advice of their dentists in Guildford early enough.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, commented: “We have published this report to highlight the need for greater awareness of mouth cancer. It is extremely concerning to see the lack of basic knowledge about the disease, especially as it continues to affect more people every year.”

Among the leading causes of the condition are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through oral sex.

The Oral Health Foundation has also shared a list of the most common signs of mouth cancer, urging anyone who experiences any of them to visit their dentist or doctor urgently.

Unusual lumps or swelling, red or white patches in the mouth, and mouth ulcers that don’t heal and last longer than three weeks are some of the symptoms to watch out for.

Head of professional services at Simplyhealth Professionals, which supported the research, Dr Catherine Rutland explained that it’s possible to beat mouth cancer, but early diagnosis is crucial.

She added: “Regular dental visits remain crucial to spotting mouth cancer early, as your dentist will examine you for mouth cancer during every routine appointment."

Meanwhile, the British Dental Association Scotland (BDA) recently suggested that plans put forward by the Scottish government to restrict dental check-ups until once every two years will put lives at risk.

The News & Star reported that a survey of dental professionals found that 97 per cent believe that the changes would put people’s lives at risk because they will make it more likely that oral cancer cases are picked up too late.

The news provider also pointed out that oral cancer survival rates increase from 50 per cent to 90 per cent when it is detected early. The BDA estimates that the annual cost of treating oral cancer in the Scottish NHS stands at £67.3 million.

However, with the rate of this kind of cancer expected to increase by one-third by 2035, the estimated costs of treatment is also expected to climb to £148.3 million.

Former NHS dentist Anas Sarwar, who is now an MSP, told the newspaper that the figures are of “serious concern”.

He also said: “The wide variations in oral cancer incidence and survival rates between different areas and social groups in Scotland are unacceptable.”