A survey of 11,785 British adults has found that 70% say they are unaware of any of the symptoms of mouth cancer.
And 3% of individuals think kissing can increase your chances of developing mouth cancer.
Simplyhealth’s Annual Dental Survey 2012 highlights the need to educate the population on the main risks and symptoms of a cancer that’s on the increase .
James Glover, spokesperson for Simplyhealth says: ‘While 85% of people surveyed recognise that smoking tobacco can increase their chances of developing mouth cancer, there is a lack of awareness about other potential risks.
‘Our findings follow recent news from Cancer Research UK that high risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections which are spread through bodily contact could be the key reason for the increase in mouth cancer, particularly among younger people.
‘Although this risk cannot be avoided in the same way as not smoking, it’s important for people to know what makes us all susceptible to this type of cancer.’
Dentist Michael Thomas says: ‘As well as knowing the risks, individuals should be educated in identifying the symptoms. As with all cancers, the sooner it is identified, the better. Worryingly, only 28% of those surveyed by Simplyhealth would consider consulting or have consulted with their dentist about concerns or queries over mouth cancer. Dentists are integral to addressing any worries individuals may have about the health of their mouth. I’d encourage everyone to utilise their time in the dentist’s chair and speak up should they have any questions about the risks or symptoms of mouth cancer.’
Michael Thomas has put together the below ‘cut out and keep’ guide to the main risks and most common symptoms of mouth cancer:
The main risk factors:
· Poor diet and nutrition
· Sun exposure (lips)
· Human papilloma virus (HPV) which affects the immune system and can be spread by kissing and bodily contact (most strains of HPV are harmless but a few are high risk)
· Previous cancer diagnosis
Most common symptoms:
· A mouth sore or ulcer that fails to heal or bleeds easily
· All red or red and white patches in the mouth that will not go away
· A lump or thickening in the mouth, tongue or throat
· Difficulty in chewing or swallowing food
· New persistent pain
1 In the last 10 years, cases have risen from around six cases per 100,000, to eight cases. Cancer Research UK – www.canceresearchuk.org
2 Cancer Research UK – http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/news/archive/pressrelease/2012-03-16-hpv-push-oral-cancer-cases-past-6000-a-year?rss=true