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Cheltenham dentist warns on increase in mouth cancer cases

An experienced Gloucestershire dentist has warned that people are not aware of the symptoms of mouth cancer, despite a 49 per cent increase in such cases over the past ten years.

Tim Rumney, clinical director at Illume, a dental practice in Queen’s Road, Cheltenham, said the number of new mouth cancer cases in the UK had reached over 8,300 a year.

His comments come during Mouth Cancer Action Month taking place throughout November and being highlighted by the team at Illume.

“It is worrying that many people are unaware of mouth cancer and, more importantly, the signs and symptoms to look out for,” said Tim.

“Early diagnosis is important to ensure it is treated at an early stage. That’s why it’s important for people to have regular dental examinations where dentists or a dental hygienist will check for the signs of mouth cancer.”

A new report was published this week by the Oral Health Foundation. The State of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2018/2019 found that 2,722 people died because of mouth cancer last year in the UK.

Over the past 20 years, the number of cases has increased by 135 per cent.

Key findings of the report published are:

•    New cases of mouth cancer in the UK have now reached 8,302 a year.

•    This has increased by 49% in the last decade and by 135% compared with 20 years' ago.

•    56% of mouth cancers appear on the tongue and tonsils.

•    Last year, 2,722 British people died because of mouth cancer.

•    The ten-year survival rate is between 19% and 58%, depending on where the cancer occurs and how early it is diagnosed.

•    Almost nine in ten (88%) British adults have now heard of mouth cancer. However, only 8% are confident about their knowledge of the disease.

•    Three in four (75%) do not know the significant signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

•    Awareness of the major risk factors of mouth cancer remains low.

•    Better lifestyle choices, earlier diagnosis and improved access to dentistry are some of the key challenges in confronting mouth cancer.

•    Calls for more investment in community dentistry, as well as a catch-up programme for HPV vaccinations to vaccinate boys as well as girls, as human papilloma virus has emerged as an increasing cause of mouth cancer.

“At Illume, our team of dentists and dental professionals are trained to look for signs of mouth cancer and other oral health conditions. That is why it is important for everyone to have a regular dental examination or Healthy Mouth Review not only to have their teeth and gums examined but also to look for other health conditions such as mouth cancer,” added Tim.

Mouth cancer can affect many places, including lips, tongue, gums and cheeks.

Key symptoms are:

•    Mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks

•    Red and white patches in the mouth

•    Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth, head or neck area

“Anyone who is concerned that they might have these symptoms should consult their dentist as soon as possible. This will ensure it is diagnosed and treated at an early stage,” said Tim.

Mouth Cancer Action Month takes place until the end of November.

More details can be found at