4 November 2014

Growing mouth cancer rates means one in seven of us know someone affected by the disease.

New research looked into whether we knew people diagnosed with mouth cancer, a survivor or still battling mouth cancer and the number of mouth cancer scares someone close to them had experienced and found one in seven people knew someone affected by the disease.

With cases of mouth cancer approaching 7,000 and deaths exceeding 2,000 for the first time, mouth cancer campaigners believe more people could soon know someone affected.

The results have been published by oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation, who aim to raise awareness of the disease through November's Mouth Cancer Action Month.

The campaign, sponsored by Denplan, will be aiming to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by increasing education of the risk factors and signs and symptoms while encouraging everybody to discuss them with their dental professional.

Mouth Cancer Action Month November 2014The disease has grown by a third in the last decade - and remains one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years.

Although there are risk factors heavily linked to the disease, mouth cancer can affect anybody. That's why it's so important that we all know what to look out for. An ulcer that does not heal within three weeks, an unusual lump or swelling or red and white patch in your mouth could be the sign of mouth cancer.

The survey also discovered only one per cent of people asked knew how to self-examine for the disease. Given how important early detection is, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, urges everyone to use the campaign as a springboard for finding out more.

Dr Carter said: "It is quite simple - knowing what to look for could save your life. Early detection of the disease can give you a near 90 per cent chance of survival. If you present with symptoms that you have been unaware of or have left for too long, your chances of surviving drop to 50 per cent.

"Mouth cancer takes the lives of more than 2,000 people each year in the UK, which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined. This fact alone shows there are too many people presenting with late diagnosis. By knowing more about the risk factors, living healthier lifestyles and by learning what to look out we can help reduce our risk and lower the number of lives that mouth cancer effects.

"Tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and the human papillomavirus (HPV) have all been linked to an increased risk of developing the disease. Be more ‘Mouthaware' and look for ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth. It could save your life."

Henry Clover, Deputy Chief Dental Officer at Denplan, said: "With cases steadily rising, it's never been more important for people to be aware of mouth cancer - and the fact that it can affect anyone. Most people have heard of other cancers such as lung and breast cancer and their associated risks and symptoms; however knowledge of mouth cancer is still relatively low in comparison. Through Mouth Cancer Action Month, we want to push mouth cancer to the forefront of peoples' minds so that it can be detected early and more effectively treated, which is so important to survival rates."

For more information about the campaign, also supported by Dentists' Provident, the Association of Dental Groups and charity partner the Mouth Cancer Foundation, please visit www.mouthcancer.org.


1. Research conducted on behalf of the British Dental Health Foundation by OnePoll, September 2014. Sample size: 2,500