Did you know 8,300 Brits were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year? That’s an astonishing rise of 50 per cent compared to a decade ago. But what’s even more alarming is the severe lack of awareness most adults have regarding the disease.
A recent survey found eight out of 10 adults didn’t know where mouth cancer appears and three quarters revealed they didn’t even know what the symptoms were.
The startling revelations have been released to coincide with November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month, which aims to shine a light on the condition and educate people on the subject.
Mouth cancer has traditionally been associated with older men who had a history of heavy drinking and smoking. But the disease is now becoming more prevalent among women thanks to the ladette culture of the 90s and more and more people in their 30s and 40s are now developing the disease.
Cheap booze and chain smoking may be the most prevalent causes of mouth cancer but the explosion of social sites like Tinder, which make it easier for people to hook up for sex, and poor diets have also been linked to the alarming rise in cases.
What are the symptoms of mouth cancer?
There are numerous symptoms of mouth cancer to look out for. These include:
A change in your speech, such as a lisp
Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth or on the tongue
Mouth ulcers that refuse to heal within a reasonable time frame
Unexplained lumps that fail to disappear
Lumps in the neck
Pain with your jaw
Difficulty or painful chewing
If you experience any of those symptoms it is crucial that you visit your dentist immediately. If detected early, relatively minor surgery can be used to extract the cancer which has a very high rate of success. Even in advanced stages there is a 50 per cent survival rate thanks to the vast improvements in surgery and medication.
Dr Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said he was shocked to hear of the survey’s findings.
“It is extremely concerning to see the lack of basic knowledge about the disease, especially as it continues to affect more people every year.
“For so long mouth cancer seems to have gone under the radar. It is now time for us to take notice and learn what we need to, so we can help protect ourselves and others around us.
“It is so important to understand what is most likely to put us at risk, how we can spot mouth cancer and where we can go if we see anything out of the ordinary.”
Dr Catherine Rutland, head of professional support services at Simplyhealth Professionals, added that regular dental visits were crucial to spotting the signs early.
“It is important to know how and where mouth cancer can appear and to be alert to any changes in and around the mouth. Regular dental visits remain crucial to spotting mouth cancer early, as your dentist will examine you for mouth cancer during every routine appointment. However, being vigilant in between appointments and checking your own mouth will also help to find any early signs and symptoms.
“Mouth cancer is beatable, but we have to act quickly. An early diagnosis is vital and can not only save a life but can also improve quality of life.”