‘Catastrophic rise’ in mouth cancer rates

Mouth cancer cases in the UK have increased by more than 1,000 in a year.

Latest statistics obtained by mouth cancer campaigners the British Dental Health Foundation reveal that there were 7,698 new cases in 20111, a rise of 1,159 in just 12 months.

There were more than 6,000 new cases in England alone, while Scotland still has the most cases per 100,000 people.

Since the turn of the millennium cases of mouth cancer have increased by 50 per cent, with almost double the number of men developing the disease compared to women. Almost 2,500 people died from mouth cancer in 2011, with no signs of cases or deaths slowing down.

Throughout November Mouth Cancer Action Month, organised by the British Dental Health Foundation and sponsored by Denplan and also supported by Dentists’ Provident and the Association of Dental Groups (ADG), aims to educate the public about a disease many experts believe will continue to rise over the next decade.

Lifestyle choices heavily influence the risk of developing mouth cancer.  Tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and the human papillomavirus (HPV), often transmitted via oral sex, increase the chances of mouth cancer. Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, expressed deep concern at the new figures.

Dr Carter said: ‘An increase of more than 1,000 in a year is very worrying. There is a clear gap in public knowledge about what causes mouth cancer that needs to be plugged.  Smoking and drinking to excess increase your chances of getting mouth cancer by 30 times as much, yet so many social smokers often light up while having a drink.

“Of greater concern is the rise of the human papillomavirus. It is forecast to overtake smoking as the leading cause of the disease in the next ten years. Poor diet has been linked to half of cases in the UK. All of these factors make early diagnosis so important. If it is caught early, your chances of surviving mouth cancer are 90 per cent. If it is caught late, which unfortunately many cases are, then you have a 50/50 chance of living.

‘Given how important early detection is, the campaign is a great opportunity for the public to learn about the risks and what to look out for.’


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