Mouth cancer diagnoses reach record high

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The number of patients being diagnosed with mouth cancer has reached a record high after a tenth annual successive rise in cases. 

Following the release of new figures, which show that the number of people affected has risen for the tenth year in a row, the Oral Health Foundation has described the situation as an “uphill battle.” The charity launched its annual Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign on Friday 1st November and hopes that more people will learn about oral cancer in the coming weeks. Public awareness of the disease is very poor, despite the fact that the number of cases in the UK has almost doubled in the last ten years. 

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said that many forms of cancer are becoming less prevalent, but this is not the case for mouth cancer. Exposure to the HPV (human papilloma virus), drinking and smoking are all linked to an increased risk of mouth cancer, yet many people are unaware of these risk factors. As well as a lack of awareness about causes, dentists are also worried that patients don’t know what kinds of symptoms and warnings to look out for. This means that many don’t seek advice or see their dentist or GP until the symptoms are indicative of advanced cancer. 

Early diagnosis can increase the chances of survival by up to 90%, and this is why the Oral Health Foundation, in association with the Mouth Cancer Foundation, is eager to spread the word and educate patients this November. The main symptoms of oral cancer include red and white patches in the mouth, ulcers and sores that take a long time to heal, abnormal swelling, pain or bleeding and lumps in the mouth or throat. 

Throughout November, dental practices will be hosting screening sessions and taking part in events and activities to raise awareness of the disease and to generate funds for mouth cancer charities. Mouth cancer checks are also provided as part of routine check-ups, so patients are advised to make sure they see their dentist every 6-12 months.

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