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Why is oral cancer on the rise?

  • A blog concerning the rise in the number of oral cancer cases, and what are the signs to look out for.

    By Holly Sumbler

The number of people of people being diagnosed with oral cancer risen by 97% in the UK over the last 20 years and it remains one of the few types of cancer that is predicted to increase further in the coming years. There is further concern that with the Covid 19 restrictions more patients are going undiagnosed.

One of the main issues is that oral cancer is not being diagnosed early enough. Early detection is crucial to saving lives. The British Dental Journal highlighted that despite dentist being aware that checking for oral cancer is part of their duty of care, many found that there were barrier such as time constraints and a lack of confidence about discussing oral cancer with their patients. The Oral Health Foundation conducted a survey which found that whilst 90% of dentists checked for signs of oral cancer, only a small percentage discussed what they were doing with the patient. A full mouth cancer check by dentist is likely to only take between 90 seconds and 2 minutes to perform and may be life saving.

Public awareness is also really important so that people can recognise the warning signs and present them to their dentist earlier. There are risk factors such as smoking, and alcohol consumption, but it can affect anyone. It is therefore important to look out for the following:-

  • If a mouth ulcer has been present for more than 3 weeks and is not healing
  • Don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swelling in your mouth, or any red or white patches.
  • Regularly check your mouth, lips and cheeks for any changes.

If you notice something which concerns you, then please book an appointment with your dentist or doctor to get it checked.

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