Survey shows lack of awareness of oral cancer in the UK
A survey carried out by the British Dental Health Foundation has revealed a ‘staggering’ lack of awareness of oral cancer in the UK.
Over one thousand people participated in the survey, which was carried out as part of Mouth Cancer Action Month; the results showed that a very small proportion of people were actually aware of the causes and symptoms of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is becoming more common, yet people do not know much about it, especially in comparison with other forms of cancer, such as breast and cervical cancer, which have a high media profile. 10 percent of participants claimed that they had never even heard of mouth cancer. Even the recent media coverage surrounding Michael Douglas, who has been diagnosed with throat cancer, does not seem to have made a difference to public awareness of the disease. Oral cancer now kills one person every five hours in the UK, which is more than both testicular and cervical cancer combined.
Dr Nigel Carter, of the British Dental Health Foundation, said that the results of the poll were alarming and showed a serious lack of awareness about the potentially life-threatening disease. Dr Carter said the findings were very worrying, especially as more younger people are being diagnosed with the condition; the results of the poll showed that young people have very low awareness of oral cancer and do not know about the causes and symptoms of the disease. In the last decade alone, rates of oral cancer have increased by around 40 percent and recent figures have revealed that the disease is becoming more prevalent amongst younger people; studies have shown that drinking alcohol on a regular basis, smoking and a poor diet are contributing to this trend.
In light of the findings, experts are keen to raise awareness of oral cancer and teach people about the causes and symptoms of the disease. Risk factors include smoking and drinking regularly; if you smoke and drink you are much more likely to develop the disease than those who do not smoke or drink heavily. Diet can also make a difference and eating healthily will contribute to good overall health, as well as reducing the risk of developing many serious illnesses.
Common symptoms or oral cancer include white or red patches in the mouth, sores which do not heal and unusual swellings or lumps in the mouth or throat. All patients are advised to attend regular check-ups every six to twelve months to allow dentists to monitor their general oral health and check for early warnings signs of dental health problems. If caught early, the survival chances are up to 90 percent higher than those diagnosed in advanced stages, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as you spot early symptoms.
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