MOUTH cancer rates rose by over 50 per cent in first decade of this millennium with a reported 7,698 new cases in 2011 according to statistics obtained by the British Dental Health Foundation.
The charity reports that there were more than 6,000 new cases in England alone, while Scotland still has the most cases per 100,000 people. Almost double the number of men developed the disease compared to women.
Deaths from mouth cancer approached 2,500 in 2011 and rates are expected to continue rising over the next decade.
November is Mouth Cancer Action Month which is organised by the British Dental Health Foundation and aims to educate the public about mouth cancer and common risk factors.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter said: "The scale of increasing mouth cancer rates is very worrying. There is a clear gap in public knowledge about what causes mouth cancer that needs to be plugged. Smoking and drinking to excess increase your chances of getting mouth cancer by 30 times as much, yet so many social smokers often light up while having a drink.
"Of greater concern is the rise of the human papillomavirus. It is forecast to overtake smoking as the leading cause of the disease in the next ten years. Poor diet has been linked to half of cases in the UK. All of these factors make early diagnosis so important. If it is caught early, your chances of surviving mouth cancer are 90 per cent. If it is caught late, which unfortunately many cases are, then you have a 50/50 chance of living."