Mouth Cancer Action Month
Around 60,000 people will be diagnosed with mouth cancer over the next decade.
- In the UK alone there were 7,700 cases of mouth, throat and head & neck cancers in 2011.
- Tobacco use is still considered the main cause of mouth cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, up to half of current smokers will die of a tobacco-related illness – including mouth cancer.
- Drinking to excess can increase the risk of mouth cancer by four times. Those who smoke and drink are up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.
- Mouth cancer is twice more common in men than in women, though an increasing number of women are being diagnosed with the disease.
- Age is another factor, with people over the age of 40 more likely to be diagnosed, though more young people are now being affected than previously.
- Poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases.
- Experts suggest the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), transmitted through oral sex, could overtake tobacco and alcohol as the main risk factor within the coming decade.
- Cancers can occur in any part of the mouth, tongue, lips, and adjacent areas like the throat, salivary glands, pharynx, larynx, sinus, and other sites in the head and neck area.
THE CHANCE OF SURVIVAL IS GREATLY IMPROVED IF THE CANCERS ARE DETECTED EARLY AND TREATED RAPIDLY.
Without early detection it is estimated that over the next decade around 60,000 people in the UK (alone) will be diagnosed with the disease and around 30,000 people will die. Worldwide, over 460,000 people are expected to die from mouth cancer each year by 2030.
Mouth cancer patients suffer greatly owing to disabilities such as facial deformity, loss of teeth and damage to the tongue and throat, with consequent difficulty in talking and eating in public places. Yet they do not receive the attention and support that other cancer sufferers do.
The Mouth Cancer Foundation is constantly campaigning for early detection and to raise awareness of the risks and signs and symptoms of Mouth Cancer. Dental health professionals are the natural leaders to lead the fight against mouth cancer as follows:
- Warm patients of the dangers of tobacco use, alcohol abuse and the link to HPV.
- Alert Asian patients to the dangers of paan and gutka chewing.
- Carry out a thorough head and neck cancer screening on patients at annual routine check ups.
- Make an effort to increase awareness of mouth cancers and the need for support for head and neck cancer patients.
Leaflets and posters on lowering the risk of mouth cancer are available free of charge from the Mouth Cancer Foundation and can be used as discussion tools during consultations or displayed in the waiting room. Wristbands and t-shirts are available too.
Mouth Cancer Action Month is held in November every year and is supported by the British Dental Health Foundation and the Mouth Cancer Foundation. You may wish to hold a mouth cancer screening in your dental practice during November.