09 Nov

UK mouth cancer cases rise by 1%

A new report shows that mouth cancer cases have risen by 1% in the last year in the UK.

The Oral Health Foundation’s State of Mouth Cancer Report 2022 revealed that case numbers have continued an upward spiral in the last 12 months. In the last decade, there has been a 34% increase in cases. Since 2002, the number of people diagnosed with mouth cancer has risen by 103%. 

As the number of cases in the UK has increased, the number of people dying from mouth cancer has also risen. Today, the number of deaths is 75% higher than in 2002. 

The Oral Health Foundation, a dental charity, compiles an annual report as part of its Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign, which runs throughout November. The aim is to determine the prevalence of mouth cancer and gain an insight into public awareness and to put forward suggestions to reduce rates and deaths. 

The 2022 report indicates that public awareness has improved, but there is a very long way to go. Although 90% of adults have now heard of mouth cancer, less than 50% are aware of key symptoms, including painful, slow-healing mouth ulcers and sores. 

One of the main problems highlighted by the foundation’s report is poor education. Almost 80% of those surveyed had not seen any public health messaging linked to mouth cancer and only 15% of people have seen campaigns or information about oral cancer in the last year. There is a lot more emphasis on other types of cancer, including breast, prostate, bowel and lung cancer despite the fact that mouth cancer cases are increasing and survival rates have stalled. 

As well as improving education, the charity has also called for the government to invest in NHS dentistry to boost access to routine appointments to diagnose more cases early and provide financial assistance for patients undergoing treatment for mouth cancer. Many need extensive restorative treatment, which is currently not available free of charge on the NHS. 

During November, charities and dental teams around the UK are participating in fundraising events and offering screening to raise awareness of mouth cancer and encourage people to get checked.