Relentless rise in UK oral cancer cases

  • Date: 04 November 2022
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  • 2 minute read

NEW cases of oral cancer continue to rise, with 8,864 people in the UK diagnosed with the disease last year, representing a 34 per cent increase in the last 10 years.

Figures collected by the Oral Health Foundation show a one per cent increase in cases over last year, part of a steady rise in cases among both men and women in recent decades.

The findings appear in the State of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2022 and have been released to coincide with November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month.

One in three mouth cancers (33 per cent) are found on the tongue and almost one in four (23 per cent) are discovered on the tonsil, with other sites including the lips, gums, inside of the cheeks, and the floor and roof of the mouth.

Latest figures show that 3,034 people in the UK lost their life to mouth cancer last year. This has risen by almost 20 per cent in the last five years.

Survival rates for mouth cancer have barely improved in the last 20 years, with a key reason being late diagnosis. More than half (53 per cent) of all mouth cancers are diagnosed at stage IV.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, commented: “While most cancers are on the decrease, cases of mouth cancer continue to rise at an alarming rate. Traditional causes like smoking and drinking alcohol to excess are quickly being caught by emerging risk factors like the human papillomavirus (HPV). The stigma around mouth cancer has changed dramatically. It’s now a cancer that really can affect anybody.”

Found out more about Mouth Cancer Action Month.

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