Mouth cancer cases are on the rise in the UK. Here are some easy-to-miss signs to know

Most people are more likely to check for testicular or breast cancer than they would for mouth cancer.

Mouth cancer cases are on the rise in the UK. Here are some easy-to-miss signs to know
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Mouth cancer cases are on the rise in the UK. Here are some easy-to-miss signs to know

More than 8,500 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, a 36 per cent increase over figures from a decade ago. A report by the Oral Health Foundation, also found that some 3,034 people lost their lives to the disease in 2021, raising concerns about the lack of awareness about the cancer. The need for increased awareness is partly due to the fact that other lifestyle factors apart from drinking and smoking could spike your risk of being diagnosed with the cancer.

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Mouth cancer

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is where a tumour develops in a part of the mouth, according to the NHS. It may be on the surface of the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth (palate), the lips or gums. Tumours can also develop in the glands that produce saliva, the tonsils at the back of the mouth, and the part of the throat connecting your mouth to your windpipe (pharynx).

The cancer could manifest as a mouth ulcer that doesn’t deal for several weeks. It could also present as red or white patches in the mouth, lumps or swellings in the mouth, head or neck. Another sign to look for is a persistent hoarseness in the voice, an article in The Independent states. Dr Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation told the news outlet:

We have seen first-hand the devastating affect mouth cancer can have on a person’s life. It changes how somebody speaks, it makes eating and drinking more difficult, and often changes a person’s physical appearance.
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Getty/ Anna Streltsova / EyeEm

Be mouth aware

The Oral Health Foundation estimates that nearly two in three people have never checked their mouth for signs of oral cancer. In fact, most people are more likely to routinely check for testicular or breast cancer than they would mouth cancer.

Dr Carter explains that more people need to be aware of this cancer as unlike cancers, mouth cancer cases seem to be on the rise, a trend he described as disturbing.

We urge everybody to become more ‘mouth aware’ by being able to recognise the early warning signs of mouth cancer and to be aware of the common causes. Most importantly, if you notice anything unusual, please don’t delay and seek help from a doctor or dentist.

Sources used:

The Independent: Mouth cancer causes grow as cases skyrocket in UK

Cancer Research UK: Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer

NHS: Mouth cancer overview

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