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75% of UK adults are unware of the symptoms of mouth cancer, despite a 135% increase in the number of cases

A new study has suggested that three-quarters of UK adults are unaware of the symptoms of mouth cancer, despite the fact that there has been a 135% increase in the number of cases in the last two decades.

Figures published by the Oral Health Foundation show that 75% of people do not know what the symptoms and warning signs of mouth cancer are, in spite of the fact that oral cancer kills more people in the UK than cervical and testicular cancer combined. Last year, more than 8,300 new cases were diagnosed. This represents a 135% increase since 1998. More than 80% of people surveyed were also unaware of the parts of the mouth that were affected by oral cancer.

The Oral Health Foundation has released new studies to coincide with the charity’s annual Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign. The foundation’s chief executive, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said that it is hugely important that people are aware of the symptoms so that they can seek advice as early as possible. Sadly, as awareness is so low, the majority of cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when there’s a high risk that cancerous cells have already spread.

The campaign is hoping to make people more aware of mouth cancer and encourage them to look out for potential warning signs. The most common risk factors for mouth cancer include drinking and smoking, exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV) and a poor diet. Symptoms may include swelling and abnormal lumps, slow-healing mouth sores and ulcers, unexplained oral pain and bleeding, and red or white patches in the mouth.

As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, practices all over the country will be hosting free screening and encouraging patients who haven’t had a check-up in a while to get in touch.

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