image credit: Cancer Research UK
Mouth Cancer Action Month is in full swing, and new research released by Cancer Research UK has revealed that the disease is now the 10th most common cancer in men. This data shows that around 7,300 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in the UK in 2012, with the 4,900 cases in men more than twice that of the 2,400 in women.
The surge in cases of oral cancer in the last decade has led to Cancer Research UK teaming up with the British Dental Association and the British Dental Health Foundation to launch a new oral cancer toolkit. Designed for dental professionals and GPs, the toolkit will aid them to spot the disease earlier.
Killing around 2,300 people each year, the majority of oral cancer cases (9 in 10) are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors. For example, 65% of cases are linked to tobacco smoking while the human papilloma virus (HPV), drinking alcohol, and a low fruit and veg diet are other risk factors.
Professor Damien Walmsley, chief scientific advisor to the British Dental Association, said: “If oral cancer is spotted early survival rates can reach 90%. Delay is costing lives, so it’s vital that front line health professionals have the tools and the information to reduce the risk of the disease and get patients diagnosed as quickly as possible. We are proud to team up with Cancer Research UK, and we urge all those who work in the oral health field to make use of this toolkit.”
Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK’s lead GP, said: “It’s a real concern that oral cancer cases continue to climb and has now broken into the top ten most common cancers in men, especially as the majority of cases are preventable. The combination of tobacco, drinking alcohol and HPV provides a toxic cocktail that has led to this rising tide of cancers, so it’s vital that people are aware of how to reduce their risk.
“If oral cancer is found at a late stage treatment options are more likely to be limited with long-lasting side effects and the chances of survival are poor. It’s because of this that we’re working to raise awareness of the risk factors of the disease as well as helping doctors and GPs spot the signs and symptoms and have the knowledge they need to act.”