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

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

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 (, 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 nhs­­for­farm­ing

Su­san Webb sounds a warn­ing

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