In a survey carried out by the British Dental Health Foundation as part of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month, nine out of every ten people want to see the vaccination introduced for secondary school boys.
A vaccination programme for girls aged 12 to 13 has been in place in the UK since 2008, handing out over four million doses of the jab, but now the UK’s leading oral health charity says it is time for a change.
Chief Executive of the Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, says cases of HPV in men are growing at an alarming rate and that more must be done to prevent any future outbreak.
Dr Carter said: “HPV is such growing concern – much of the 42 percent rise in incidence of mouth cancer over the last 10 years is down to HPV and whilst vaccination of young girls will help, in order to be truly effective we will need to consider vaccination of boys as well.
“It is about time we took action to prevent this hidden killer, which is beginning to affect more and more young people. Expert studies suggest HPV is set to become the leading cause of mouth cancer alongside smoking and alcohol, so let us be proactive and plan against this threat.
“The government wisely acted on the above controversy to give young girls anti–HPV jabs to young girls to curb cervical cancer. Mouth cancer is responsible for more deaths than cervical cancer, so surely it is time to widen the programme to boys.”
One person dies every five hours in the UK from mouth cancer, making it the UK’s fastest growing cancer, with new research showing almost 6,000 new cases every year.
The disease is twice as common in men as in women, though an increasing number of women are being diagnosed with the disease. Previously, the disease has been five times more common in men than women.
Age is another factor, with people over the age of 40 more likely to be diagnosed, though more young people are now being affected than previously.
People who smoke and drink to excess have been found to be at a higher risk and are up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer while poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases.
A mouth ulcer that has not healed within three weeks, red or white patches and any swelling or unusual lumps in the mouth are all early warning signs of the disease and must be checked by a professional immediately.
Dr Carter added: “Mouth cancer is a potentially fatal condition that is taking more lives each year.
“Like with all cancers, early diagnosis is essential. If mouth cancer is not caught early the chances of survival could plummet down to as little as half. Learning what the risk are, the symptoms and causes, along with promoting self examination and dental visits could see most mouth cancers being caught during the early stages, where nine in every ten people go on to survive.”
The HPV is the term for a collection of viruses that affect the skin by creating lesions in the moist membranes, it then develops into cancer. It can affect the cervix, anus, mouth and throat.
The current programme is delivered mostly through secondary schools and comprises of three injections over a six month period.
The jab identifies one of two exceptionally dangerous forms of HPV – known as 16 and 18 – long before the virus develops into cancer and creates lesions.
For information and free expert advice on mouth cancer and other oral health issues call the National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188, alternatively visit the website at www.mouthcancer.org
November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, a campaign organised by the British Dental Health Foundation to spread knowledge and awareness to the public of the disease.
Expert interviews are available to members of the press by calling the Foundation’s press office on 01788 539 792 or by email at [email protected]
You can find more information on mouth cancer at the website www.mouthcancer.org.
For news and more information from the Foundation, you can visit the Foundation’s Twitter accounts: dentalhealthorg, mouthcancerorg and smilemonth or visit our Facebook fan–page: ‘British Dental Health Foundation’.
The British Dental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading oral health charity, with a 40–year track record of providing public information and influencing government policy. It maintains a free consumer advice service, an impartial and objective product accreditation scheme, publishes and distributes a wide range of literature for the profession and consumers, and runs National Smile Month each May, to promote greater awareness of the benefits of better oral health.
A series of ‘Tell Me About…’ leaflets covering topics such as ‘mouth cancer’, ‘smoking and oral health’ and ‘ulcers’ are also available.
Mouth cancer claims the lives of 2,000 every year, making it the UK’s fastest growing cancer.
That is why the charity is strongly advising people of all ages to start checking their mouths more frequently and continue to attend their check–ups on a regular basis.
Three quarters of all mouth cancer cases have been linked to tobacco and smoking while chewing tobacco and the likes of paan and guthka also place people at considerable risk.
Tobacco and alcohol are thought to contribute to at least three–quarters of mouth cancer cases.
Smoking is the number one cause for mouth cancer. Cigarette smoke converts saliva into a deadly cell–damaging cocktail.
Switching to low–tar cigarettes will not help, as smokers of ‘lights’ tend to inhale more smoke than smokers of ‘regular’ cigarettes.
Alcohol aids absorption of smoke into the mouth – people who smoke and drink alcohol to excess are 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.
Poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases. Evidence shows an increase in fruit and vegetables lowers the risk, as can fish and eggs.
It is recommended that people enjoy a healthy, balanced diet, including food from each of the major food groups and including fruit and vegetables of all different colours as each colour contains different vitamins.