30 November 2016

New research has discovered that cancers which we see as ‘preventable’ are less likely to receive donations than other types.

The study by health charity the Oral Health Foundation, looked at attitudes towards cancer and discovered that charities which represent cancers which are traditionally associated with lifestyles choices, such as smoking and drinking, are up to 11 times less likely to receive donations compared to charities representing those which aren’t.

The most popular choice for cancer charity donations by far was breast cancer, with a vast 44% of total donors saying they would be most willing to support this causes. Of the 2,000 participants involved in the nationwide study, 85% perceived breast cancer as non-preventable.

At the other end of the scale, less than one in three (30%) thought mouth cancer was preventable. This seemingly had a significant impact on the likelihood of donations to associated charities, with as little as  4% saying they were most likely to offer support to mouth cancer charities.

Today marks the last day of Mouth Cancer Action Month, a campaign organised by the Oral Health Foundation. Throughout November, the charity has aimed to increase education on the causes of mouth cancer so that more of us realise that anybody can develop mouth cancer and that it is not always diagnosed as a result of lifestyle factors.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation issued a plea for greater public support into those diagnosed and effected by mouth cancer: “Unlike many other types of cancer, the number of mouth cancer cases in the UK are continuing to rise at an alarming rate and alongside this survival chances are not seeing any improvement either. More support is desperately needed to help mouth cancer sufferers face up to mouth cancer and overcome it.

“Although many cases are linked with smoking and drinking, many are not and this is an issue which we all need to understand. Literally anybody can develop mouth cancer and without the level of support that some other types of cancer sufferers get their chances of beating the disease are far-far lower.

“One of the growing causes of mouth cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), an infection almost every single sexually active person globally will be infected with at some stage of their life. There is little to no way of stopping the spread of this disease, other than stopping having sex altogether, and therefore it is important that we all know the health issues that are related to it so that we can do something about it if somebody is unlucky enough to develop a problem such as mouth cancer.

“Mouth cancer needs far more support if we are to have a positive impact on helping people survive mouth cancer, it does not have to be a donation, it can simply be helping to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease within your local community, if this can help to catch a single case early enough to make a difference then it will be a positive step in changing attitudes towards mouth cancer.”

The major signs and symptoms of mouth cancer include mouth ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth and any unusual lumps or bumps in the head and neck area.

The charity’s research also revealed some trends that they are optimistic about in terms of mouth cancer support among younger age groups. An encouraging 11% of 18-25 year olds said they would be likely to donate to mouth cancer charities, almost three times more than the any other age group.

“With mouth cancer being diagnosed in more young people than ever before it is very encouraging to see these groups recognising the impact which mouth cancer can have on somebody’s life. Not only in terms of the effect of the disease but also the effects of the treatment, which, even if somebody overcomes mouth cancer, can leave them with many things we take for granted; such as eating, drinking, speaking and even breathing,” Dr Carter added.

“Being given the all-clear from mouth cancer is far too often not the end of a person’s story, they are forced to live with these lifelong effects which impact on their day to day lives and can lead to severe mental health issues, such as social isolation and depression.

“By helping to alter how we see mouth cancer we are hoping to change the course of this disease in the future, but we need far more support to achieve the education needed.”

Mouth Cancer Action Month runs throughout November and is organised by the Oral Health Foundation and sponsored by Denplan. The charity campaign is aiming to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, in order to get more cases caught early enough to make a difference to the chances of survival.

Mouth cancer can affect anyone so everybody needs to be able to recognise and act on the early warning signs in order to improve early diagnosis and help save lives which otherwise could be lost to this terrible disease.