3 February 2015

The alarming increase in new mouth cancer rates in the United Kingdom can be reduced, according to leading mouth cancer campaigners.

Oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation believes a proactive approach to lowering the associated risk factors and more knowledge of what to look for will help to reduce the growing number of people developing the disease.

According to statistics from Cancer Research UK, nine in every ten cases of mouth cancer are linked to lifestyle risk factors, with tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and the human papillomavirus (HPV) all associated with increased risk.

Latest statistics show that there are 6,767 people diagnosed with mouth cancer every year in the UK - a figure which has increased by 50 per cent in the last decade alone.

Through their on-going Mouth Cancer Action campaign, the British Dental Health Foundation aims to get everyone thinking about whether their lifestyle could be putting them in harm's way while raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Ahead of World Cancer Day (February 4), Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, explained how World Cancer Day's key campaign messages are particularly crucial when it comes to mouth cancer.

Dr Carter said: "Choosing healthy lifestyles and early detection are two of the messages World Cancer Day will be promoting on February 4. It is almost as though these messages were created with mouth cancer in mind, given the huge significance they can make to reducing the risk of the disease and catching it early.

"We often find many cases are diagnosed at stage 4 - the most advanced stage where time is of the essence in potentially saving a life. Without early detection, the five-year survival rate for mouth cancer is only 50 per cent. If it is caught early, survival rates over five years can dramatically improve to up to 90 per cent.

"Sadly, more people now lose their life from mouth cancer than from cervical and testicular cancer combined. There has been so much investment in cervical cancer screening programmes in recent years and yet mouth cancer continues to go under the radar.

"If more people knew what to look out for, there is a good chance we will see survival rates dramatically increase. We are asking everybody to be mouthaware by looking out for ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth are early warning signs of mouth cancer."

The British Dental Health Foundation recommends that people visit their dentist regularly so they can undergo a visual mouth cancer check and advises anybody displaying the above signs and symptoms gets checked out by their dentist or doctor immediately.