Mouth cancer cases in the UK are set to rise by nearly a quarter by 2030, according to cancer researchers.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer predicts that a little under 8,000 new cases of mouth cancer will be diagnosed each year in the UK by 2030, an increase of 23% compared to 2008.
Mortality rates for head and neck cancer are also set to increase to over 2,700, nearly 29% higher than in 2008 (2,134 deaths).
As the risks for mouth cancer are entirely lifestyle related, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said the onus on reversing the projected increase lies within the population.
Dr Carter said: ‘The forecasted rise in mouth cancer incidence and mortality rates should be of concern to us all. Lifestyle choices that put health at risk are entirely preventable, and patients need to be educated on what the risks are.
‘In the past, mouth cancer was a disease which predominately affected males over 40 but this is no longer necessarily true. Women and younger people are increasingly at risk and our general attitudes to drinking, smoking and diet is a cause for concern.
‘Tobacco use remains the largest cause of mouth cancer, and we have seen alcohol-related admissions to hospital pass the one million mark for the first time.
‘Indulging in a poor diet and the emergence of the sexually transmitted infection the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are further lifestyle behaviours that are known risk factors for mouth cancer. The changing demographics of mouth cancer sufferers mean more people than ever before need to be aware of what these risk factors are.’
If people persist in living a risky lifestyle, it is really important that patients are told the warning signs for mouth cancer. By doing this, survival rates are dramatically improved. One in two people diagnosed with mouth cancer die without early diagnosis. However, early detection of the disease can improve five year survival rates to 90%.
Dr Carter said: ‘Between check-ups encouraging patients to look for ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth could be life-saving. If you find any of these symptoms during a check-up, it is best to arrange a referral for the patient to remove any doubt.
‘For those not so fortunate, restorative treatment can be a costly process. By signing this e-petition (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22063) you will be supporting a change to an NHS loophole that currently means mouth cancer sufferers are not guaranteed free restorative care on the NHS.’