As a dental recruiter and a fellow human, I feel it is my duty to spread the awareness of mouth cancer. As Mouth Cancer Action Month draws to a close we wanted to remind our clients and candidates how they can help impact the death rates of this terrible, but preventable disease.
But first some facts! A recent study from the Oral Health Foundation discovered some worrying results
- New cases of mouth cancer in the UK have now reached 8,302 a year.
- This has increased by 49% in the last decade and by 135% compared with 20 years' ago.
- 56% of mouth cancers appear on the tongue and tonsils.
- Last year, 2,722 Brits lost their life the mouth cancer.
- The ten-year survival rate is between 19% and 58%, depending on where the cancer strikes and how early it is diagnosed.
- Almost nine in ten (88%) British adults have now heard of mouth cancer. However, only 8% are confident about their knowledge of the disease.
- Three in four (75%) do not know the major signs and symptoms for mouth cancer.
- Awareness on the major risk factors of mouth cancer remains low.
- Better lifestyle choices, earlier diagnosis and improved access to dentistry are some of the key challenges in confronting mouth cancer.
- Calls for more investment in community dentistry, as well as a catch-up programme for HPV vaccinations.
Should dentists be doing more to help prevention of Mouth Cancer?
A study suggests survival rates from oral cancer are said to increase from 50% to 90% if it is detected early, so the dental industry could be playing a huge part in helping bring the death rate from this disease down by helping patients detect it sooner.
We have already seen the Scottish Government introduced plans at the start of this year to extend the dental recall interval for low-risk patients up to an interval of 24 months, which if approved would be a great start.
Key facts Dentists need to know about Mouth Cancer
- Drinking to excess can increase the risk of mouth cancer by four times. Those who smoke, and drink are up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer
- Tobacco use is still considered the main cause of mouth cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, up to half of current smokers will die of a tobacco-related illness – including mouth cancer
- Cancers can occur in any part of the mouth, tongue, lips, and adjacent areas like the throat, salivary glands, pharynx, larynx, sinus, and other sites in the head and neck area.
- Carry out a thorough head and neck cancer screening on patients at annual routine check-ups
- Warn patients/friends/relatives of the dangers of tobacco use, alcohol abuse and the link to HPV
Resources for dental practices
For further information please visit Mouth Cancer Foundation.