New cases of mouth cancer on the up
In her monthly column, Susan Webb, director of public health for NHS Grampian, discusses mouth cancer – the fifth most common cancer in the UK
There has been a 40% rise in the number of new cases of mouth cancer in the past decade – the biggest increase of all cancers – with the highest rates found in Scotland.
Your chance of developing mouth cancer increases if you drink alcohol regularly or use any form of tobacco.
If you do both, you are up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer. Men are twice as likely as women to be diagnosed, although the number of women being diagnosed is increasing and more young people are being affected than previously.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), transmitted through oral sex, could become the biggest risk factor in the next few years.
Sadly, far too many mouth cancers are not spotted early enough.
Mouth cancer can have a devastating effect on your life, changing how you speak and often your physical appearance.
Eating and drinking can become more difficult. You are also more likely to die from mouth cancer than a number of other cancers (such as breast, testicular or skin) if it is not picked up early.
With early diagnosis, nine out of 10 people survive mouth cancer – these are pretty good odds, which is why we are working with our dental colleagues to raise awareness of what to look out for.
Be honest, when was the last time you had a good look in your mouth? On the Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer website (ltamc.org), you can find a short video about how to check your mouth. The most common symptoms include red or white patches, a persistent lump, or an ulcer that doesn’t go away after three weeks.
On average, people will wait three months from first noticing something suspicious in their mouth before they get it checked – if in doubt, get checked out. Your dentist should be checking the soft tissue in your mouth every time you visit.
If you are not registered with a dentist, help is available by contacting the NHS Grampian Dental Information and Advice Line (DIAL) on 0345 45 65 990.
You can also download a copy of our Fit for Farming booklet at nhsgrampian.org/fitforfarming
Susan Webb sounds a warning