The International Agency for Research on Cancer1 predicts that over 790,000 people will be diagnosed with mouth cancer by 2030 – an increase of over 63 per cent compared to 2008.
Mortality rates for mouth cancer are predicted to be even higher with over 460,000 deaths forecast by 2030 – more than two thirds higher than 2008 rates (67.6 per cent).
Many of the risks for mouth cancer are lifestyle related. Tobacco use is by far the biggest cause of mouth cancer. Alcohol abuse is also a major cause and drinking to excess can increase the risk of mouth cancer by up to four times. People who smoke and drink are up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.
Smokeless or chewing tobacco like Gutka, Khaini, and Pan Masala also pose a major risk for mouth cancer, especially among South East Asian countries and communities. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), usually transmitted through oral sex, is another risk factor for mouth cancer.
The World Health Organisation believes ‘modifying and avoiding’ risk factors could result in up to 30 per cent of cancers being avoided and Chief Executive of the International Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes greater worldwide knowledge on mouth cancer and associated risk factors could have a major influence on the lives of millions.
Dr Carter said: “Although cancer is not wholly preventable, mouth cancer is very closely related to lifestyle choices. Making more people aware of the risks and symptoms for mouth cancer will undoubtedly save lives.
“In the UK, Mouth Cancer Action Month is run each year to help raise awareness. We know that early detection can transform survival rates from 50 per cent to 90 per cent and simple campaigns like these – supported by health professionals – can make a real difference.
“Forecasts for the incidence and mortality of mouth cancer are very grim. We hope more countries will develop their own mouth cancer action campaigns to raise awareness and invite anyone who wishes to do so to contact the Foundation for advice.
“Something that everyone can do is to routinely check for warning signs. These include ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth, and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth.”
More information about the UK campaign can be found at the website www.mouthcancer.org.
(News Release issued on behalf of the International Dental Health Foundation by David Westgarth, PR and Press Officer. Telephone: 01788 539792. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).