Rates of mouth cancer have jumped by 68 per cent in Britain over the last two decades and the cancer is rising among women at a even higher rate than in men, shows a new report.
Oral cancer is on the rise for men and women, young and old, climbing from eight to 13 cases per 100,000 people over the last two decades, revealed the report by British charity Cancer Research UK.
For men under 50, the rate has jumped by 67 per cent in the last 20 years — going up from around 340 cases to around 640 cases each year.
For men aged 50 and over, rates have increased by 59 per cent climbing from around 2,100 cases to around 4,400 cases annually.
In women under 50, oral cancer rates have risen by 71 per cent in the last 20 years, with annual cases climbing from around 160 to around 300, the report said.
Rates for women over 50 have also gone up by 71 per cent, with cases increasing from around 1,100 to around 2,200, it added.
The researchers found that around nine in 10 cases are linked to lifestyle and other risk factors.
Smoking is the biggest avoidable risk factor, linked to an estimated 65 per cent of cases.
Other risk factors include alcohol, diets low in fruit and vegetables, and infections with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
“Healthy lifestyles can help reduce the risk of developing the disease in the first place. Not smoking, drinking less alcohol and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables can all help to cut our risk of mouth cancer,” said Jessica Kirby, Senior Health Information Manager at Cancer Research UK.
“HPV vaccination could help protect against oral HPV infections, and it can prevent a range of cancers associated with the HPV virus, so it’s a good idea to get the vaccine if you are offered it,” Kirby noted.
Oral cancers include cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth (gums and palate), tonsils and the middle part of the throat.
“It’s worrying that oral cancer has become more 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,” Kirby said.
“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 red and white patch in your mouth or an unexplained lump in your neck are all things to look out for. Speak to your GP or dentist about any changes that are unusual or don’t go away,” Kirby added.