We are now nearing the end of MACM (Mouth Cancer Action Month). The number of people being diagnosed with the disease is increasing significantly in recent years. However, the encouraging news, according to the Oral Health Foundation’s recent research, is that public awareness of mouth cancer is improving. Almost nine out of ten British adults have heard of mouth cancer – close to a 45% increase compared to ten years ago. However, more needs to be done to educate younger people. More than one in three 18-24 year olds say they have not even heard of the disease. Many more cases are being seen in younger people so this is particularly concerning.
MACM – the numbers
More than 8,300 people in the UK are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year. Deaths from the disease have increased by 22% compared with five years ago. More than 2,400 people die of mouth cancer every year in the UK. Everyone needs to know what the risk factors are and how to spot early signs and symptoms.
Lifestyle factors, particularly drinking alcohol, smoking and chewing tobacco are heavily linked to a large number of cases. Stopping smoking and cutting down your alcohol consumption are two important steps to take to reduce your risk of developing this disease.
Early diagnosis is absolutely key to a positive outcome. Research shows that early detection boosts chances of survival from 50% to 90%. If you notice you are persistently ‘hoarse’ or have a mouth ulcer that does not heal up within three weeks, notice any white or red patches in your mouth or have any unusual lumps or swellings in your mouth, head or neck, you should speak to your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.