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‘Mouth Cancer Now Far More Common Than Cervical Cancer’, Warn Experts

WARWICKSHIRE, United Kingdom – Dental experts are urging people to check their mouths for ulcers, lumps and red or white patches, after revealing that new cases of mouth cancer are now far outstripping cervical cancer. Latest figures show that mouth cancer now hits around 4,660 people every year, compared to just 2,799 for cervical cancer – an illness which is far more widely known. The warning comes from leading UK charity, the British Dental Health Foundation.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, commented: “Here in the UK, one person dies every five hours as a result of mouth cancer and the number of new cases is increasing year upon year. In contrast, thanks to increased awareness, the number of cervical cancer cases is falling.

“Currently, for every two people that develop mouth cancer, one of them will be dead within five years. However, with early detection that rate would be more like one out of 10.

“We know the risk factors; smoking, binge drinking and unhealthy diet and we also know many of the early symptoms; ulcers that don't heal, lumps and red or white patches in the mouth – but people must be made aware of them.

“A weekly check of the lips, tongue, cheeks and outside of the throat, with a visit to the doctor or dentist following should there be any concerns, would result in a massive increase in survival rates for mouth cancer .”

Dr Carter was speaking during the high profile Mouth Cancer Awareness Week campaign (November 12-18) which was launched by Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockroft at the House of Commons on Monday and featured an inspirational speech from mouth cancer expert Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya.

Professor Warnakulasuriya, a professor of oral medicine and experimental oral pathology at Guy's, King's & St Thomas' Dental Institute in London, said:

“Since the early seventies there have been public health campaigns and a great deal of media coverage focusing on the early detection of cervical cancer through regular screening and addressing high risk groups through primary care.

“In contrast, there has been very little attention and focus on mouth cancer despite rising trends noted fifteen years ago.

“Perhaps we could learn from this scenario why cervical cancer rates have fallen in most of Western Europe but mouth cancer cases continue to rise.

“Oral cancer awareness by the public is poor and many do not know what causes oral cancer.

“Whereas prevention remains the key to disease control, improving patient awareness coupled with appropriate and timely treatment are absolutely essential.”

For more information on mouth cancer visit: www.mouthcancer.org

SOURCE: British Dental Health Foundation

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