Mouth cancer cases are soaring. Between 1993 and 1995, there were eight cases of mouth cancer per 100,000 people. In the years from 2012 to 2014, this rose to 13 cases per 100,000 people.
For men under 50, the rate has risen by 67%. For men aged 50 and over, there used to be around 2,100 cases per year but now, there are 4,400 cases per year. While this type of cancer is more common in men, women are also affected - in fact, there's been a 71% increase in rates over the last 20 years.
Cancer Research UK, which analysed the data, even issued a warning over these frightening figures, highlighting that nine out of 10 cases of mouth cancer are due to unhealthy lifestyles. However, there are still few people who know the symptoms. Does this include you? Then read on…
Factors that can increase your risk of mouth cancer
It’s well-known that smokers have a particularly high risk of mouth cancer
. Smoking isn’t the only unhealthy lifestyle habit linked to a higher risk of mouth cancer though – drinking alcohol and skimping on fruits and vegetables is almost just as bad.
Another factor that can boost your risk of mouth cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV). In fact, experts think that rising rates of mouth cancer may be largely due to rising rates of HPV. According to British medical doctor Chris Steele, HPV causes as many mouth cancers as it does cervical cancers. “I’ve had two friends die of mouth cancer. One of them had his tongue cut out. It’s horrendous,” Dr Steele says.
UK’s Jessica Kirby adds that it’s worrying that mouth cancer is becoming increasingly common. “It’s important to get to know your body and what’s normal for you to help spot the disease as early as possible,” she says.
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The most common symptoms of mouth cancer
Kirby highlights a few common symptoms of mouth cancer: “An ulcer or sore in your mouth or tongue that won’t go away, a lump on your lip or in your mouth, a red or a red and white patch in your mouth or an unexplained lump in your neck are all things to look for.”
According to the NHS, other common symptoms of mouth cancer include the following:
Pain or difficulty when swallowing;
Bleeding or numbness in the mouth;
Changes in voice or speech problems;
A tooth – or teeth – that’s become loose for no obvious reason;
Difficulty moving your jaw; and
Unexplained weight loss.
If you’re experiencing one or more of these common symptoms of mouth cancer, don’t ignore them – after all, prevention is better than cure!
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