Mouth cancer on the rise in UK, says report

Mouth cancer on the rise in UK, says reportMouth cancer is continuing to rise throughout the UK, according to a new report.

Conducted by the Oral Health Foundation, the State of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2022 analyses the causes, risks, trends and awareness of mouth cancer across the UK.

This comes as Mouth Cancer Action Month kicked in at the beginning of November.

The report shows that new cases have increased by 1% in the UK. Cases have risen by 34% over the last 10 years and by 103% over the last 20 years.

In addition, data shows that deaths from mouth cancer have increased by 75% compared with ten years ago.

Early warning signs

However, awareness of the disease has improved in recent times.

Almost nine in ten (88%) British adults have now heard of mouth cancer, for example. This has increased significantly compared to 10 years ago (65%).

But the foundation says mouth cancer education is ‘extremely hard to come by’.

The majority (80%) of the population cannot recall seeing public health messages around oral cancer. Only 15% recall exposure to information on the disease in the last year.

And almost half (49%) of UK adults do not know that long-lasting mouth ulcers can be an early warning sign of oral cancer.

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Key challenges for mouth cancer

The Oral Health Foundation concluded that there are six major challenges for the future:

  • The rising cost of living
  • Dental access
  • Late diagnosis
  • The protection of public health policies
  • HPV vaccinations
  • Tax on cancer.

It also called for a number of recommendations, including better education and awareness, boosting the uptake of the HPV vaccine and free dental check-ups for oral cancer patients.

‘The current NHS dental contract arrangements do not allow all patients recovering from mouth cancer to receive free restorative treatment on the NHS,’ the report reads.

‘Many of these patients will have complex and expensive restorative needs for life. This issue is made even worse by the fact that generally patients must pay for the privilege of asking their dentist for a potentially life-saving examination to detect the cancer in the first place.’

You can read the full report here.

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