Magnitude of UK mouth cancer rate is cause for concern

A leading professor of oral medicine has expressed concern about the lack of improvement in UK mouth cancer survival rates compared to other cancers.

Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya, professor of Oral Medicine at King’s College London, expressed his concerns at the launch of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month held at the House of Commons.

During his address, Professor Warnakulasuriya said: ‘The magnitude of the problem of mouth cancer in the UK is growing. The latest figures show a 41 per cent increase in just ten years.

‘While the treatment of many cancers is leading to an improvement in survival rates, the same cannot be said for mouth cancer. The proportion that dies has remained more or less constant.’

Professor Warnakulasuriya suggested that ‘…late presentation and also a lack of clinical trials introducing a new generation of anti-cancer medicines to combat mouth cancer’ were the likely reasons for the disappointing improvement in survival rates.

He added: ‘However, it is encouraging that significant work is being done help improve the skills and knowledge of dental professionals, including the launch of a new Europe-wide ( dedicated to the early detection and prevention of oral cancer.’

Throughout November, the British Dental Health Foundation, which runs Mouth Cancer Action Month, is hoping to improve ‘late presentation’ of mouth cancer with its campaign message of ‘If in doubt, get checked out’.


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