Oral cancer, including cancers of the lip, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth and throat can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
Between 2013 and 2015 there were roughly 11,449 head and neck cancer cases in the UK, that’s on average 32 every day. Although 93% are preventable due to lifestyle choices.
Figures show that since early 1990, head and neck cancer rates have increased by a third (31%) in the UK.
- Rates in males have increased by more than a fifth (22%)
- Rates in females have increased by two-fifths (40%).
- The most common type of cancer effecting men is cancer of the tonsils with 13%.
- Women are more likely to have cancer of the tongue.
- Further research shows that 67% of deaths caused by oral cancer are men.
- 74% of deaths are individuals over the age of 60.
- 1 in 75 men and 1 in 150 women will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer during their lifetime.
Oral Cancer statistics & research from Cancer Research UK.
What to look out for
In the early stages of oral cancer, it can often be painless, therefore it’s important to have regular check-ups.
The Signs and symptoms of oral cancer can range from;
- Ulcers that don’t heal (although usually not painful)
- Bleeding ulcers
- A growth, lump or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Tongue pain
- Red or white patches in your mouth
- Jaw stiffness or pain
- Pains when chewing
Major Risk Factors
An individual’s risk of developing cancer can depend on many factors including genetics, age, and lifestyle choices.
Bad lifestyle choices that may cause oral cancer are those such as; Tobacco products, heavy alcohol or drug use, excessive sun exposure to your lips, sexually transmitted diseases and viruses, most commonly HPV (Human Papillomavirus), or even a weakened immune system.
Smoking is the main avoidable risk and has been linked to an estimated 65% of oral cancer cases. There are more than 100 types of HPV, and around 15 are associated with cancers, this are nearly entirely sexually transmitted, it’s highly likely that oral sex is the main route to contracting the virus. The high-risk HPV types are also passed on through vaginal and anal sex, and are linked to cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer and tonsil cancer.
Historically older males who smoked and/or were heavy drinkers were most likely to get oral cancer. In recent times, there’s an increased risk of oral cancer within younger people, as research shows that the younger generation is starting to drink alcohol regularly.
Ways to prevent Oral Cancer
To prevent the cause of oral cancer it would be wise to cut out all tobacco or other smoking products, as well as reducing your alcohol intake. It’s also been recommended to stay out of the sun, especially between 10am and 4pm when sunlight is strongest, as well as using lip balm with SPF 30 or higher. A diet high in fruit and vegetables may help protect against oral cancer, lack of fruit and vegetables intake is linked to an estimated 56% of oral cancer cases.
If you are concerned, worried or would like to discuss any of the above information in more detail, please book for a complementary Cancer check with us here.
For further information about Cancer please visit Cancer Research UK here.