The UK is facing a rise in mouth cancer cases as it reaches record high numbers. Mouth cancer or oral cancer cases have almost doubled within the last generation. Drinking and smoking, which were considered the most common causes of mouth cancer are now caught up by other lifestyle habits.
According to the Oral Health Foundation’s new State of Mouth Cancer report 022, a total of 8,864 individuals were diagnosed last year which is 36 percent more than what was reported a decade ago. Out of this, a whopping 3,034 lost their lives battling the disease.
What Report Says?
The death toll has increased by almost 40 percent when compared to the last decade. According to reports, two in three people have never done the screening for mouth cancer even if the procedure takes less than a minute. On the other hand, breast cancer and testicular cancer are checked more often.
Survival rates of oral cancer patients are shockingly less in the past 20 years as the diagnosis happens at a very late stage. Almost half of the cases are diagnosed at the fourth stage which is the most advanced stage where there are very less chances of survival.
Dr.Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation observed that when most of the other types of cancers are decreasing through early diagnosis and proper management, the cases of mouth cancer are rising at a very alarming rate.
She says that the infections caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are another cause of mouth cancers together with the most common causes like smoking and drinking. The HPV virus causes genital warts and also cancer in certain instances.
Dr. Carter says that the effects of mouth cancer on an individual are devastating as it can alter the way we speak, making drinking and eating more difficult and ultimately changing the physical appearance of a person.
Two out of three individuals above the age of 55 and one in eight among people younger than 50 are more likely to develop mouth cancer. Also, men are more likely to be affected by mouth cancer as they tend to consume more alcohol and smoke more cigarettes than women.
One of the main difficulties in diagnosing mouth cancer is that, in the initial stages, the symptoms are very subtle.
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A woman named Charlotte Webster-Salter (27) had been diagnosed with mouth cancer and her tongue had to be partially removed and replaced with muscle from her leg. She had constant mouth ulcers and was told initially that it was caused by her wisdom teeth and stressful lifestyle.
After the surgery, she had to take physiotherapy to learn to walk, talk and eat again. Luckily for her, there was no further treatment required.
Tumors that cause oral cancer can be found in the salivary glands and pharynx. However, these are rare forms of tumors. The most common sites of mouth cancer are the tongue, tonsils, lips, gums, inside cheeks, and the floor and roof of the mouth.
In the U.S, around 54,000 new cases of mouth cancer have been reported in 2022 according to the American Cancer Society. The average age of oral cancer diagnosis in the US is 63 but there are instances of younger people also being affected which is just above 20 percent among people under 55.
According to the National Health Services, the symptoms of mouth cancers may include persistent lumps inside the mouth or neck, white or red patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue, a sudden change in the way you speak, painful mouth ulcers that don’t heal for weeks, loose teeth or sockets that doesn’t heal, etc. If these symptoms don’t seem to improve in three weeks, then consult your healthcare expert or a dentist.
🔵Mayo Clinic (1998-2022) Mouth Cancer (Available On):https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mouth-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20350997
🔵Cleveland Clinic (n.d) Oral Cancer (Available On):https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11184-oral-cancer
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