News & media News Health campaigners urge Brits to urgently improve knowledge and awareness of deadly disease 26 FEBRUARY 2019 Findings from a new nationwide study have prompted calls for the British public to improve their knowledge around mouth cancer. An investigation by one of the UK’s leading health charities has found British adults have extremely poor knowledge on the common causes and symptoms of mouth cancer. A survey by the Oral Health Foundation reveals one in three (33%) are not aware that smoking causes mouth cancer while more than half (57%) do not know that alcohol contributes to the disease1. More concerningly, only a third (36%) of people recognise the early warning signs of the mouth cancer – long-lasting mouth ulcers, lumps in the mouth and red or white patches. Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes by improving our knowledge of mouth cancer, we can significantly reduce the number of lives affected by the disease. Dr Carter says: “When compared with other cancers, our awareness of mouth cancer remains staggering low. Education about mouth cancer is without doubt the biggest roadblock we face in transforming the landscape of the disease. “Both the number of people being diagnosed with mouth cancer, and those losing their life to the disease, can be dramatically improved with more information about the causes and early warning signs.” During the last year, more than 8,300 people have been diagnosed with mouth cancer in the United Kingdom. It is one of the fastest-growing cancers in the country, with cases rising by 135% over 20 years. According to The State of Mouth Cancer Report 2018/2019, more than 2,700 Brits lost their life to mouth cancer last year.2 Unlike many other cancers, the survival rate for mouth cancer has barely improved over the last three generations. In a bid to save lives and lower the number of mouth cancer cases, the Oral Health Foundation is urging everybody to become Mouthaware, by learning more about mouth cancer. “Being Mouthaware is about being able to recognise and act on any changes in our mouth,” adds Dr Carter. “By regularly examining the mouth and seeking professional help quickly, we can improve our chances of beating the disease and have a better quality of life. “Mouth cancer can appear in the mouth, lips, head and neck. Look for mouth ulcers lasting longer than three weeks, red of white patches, or unusual lumps and swellings. “If any of these are seen, we should visit a dentist or doctor immediately.” Spotting mouth cancer early can greatly improve our chances of survival. However, as mouth cancer is heavily linked to lifestyle, there are many things we can do to reduce our chances of getting the disease altogether. Smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol to excess, the human papillomavirus (HPV) and poor diet are all major risk factors of mouth cancer. Dr Carter says: “By making a few simple changes to our lifestyle, we can considerably lessen our risk of mouth cancer. Cutting down on alcohol, quitting tobacco and eating healthier, will not only reduce our chance developing mouth cancer but will also provide wider benefits to our general health.” Visit www.mouthcancer.org to find out more about mouth cancer signs, symptoms and other key information about the disease.