Why we check you for mouth cancer

Key facts about mouth cancer

  • Latest figures show that in 2014, there were 7,603 people diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK.
  • That’s 18 people every day – one person diagnosed every 77 minutes!
  • The lifetime risk of developing mouth cancer is 1 in 84 for men and 1 in 160 for women.
  • Cancer of the tongue and oral cavity are the most common forms of mouth cancer, followed then by the throat.  Lip, neck and other mouth cancers make up the rest of cases.

Who mouth cancer effects

  • Mouth cancer is twice as common in men than women.
  • 86% of cases are diagnosed in those over 50.
  • More than 90% of mouth cancers in men and 85% in women are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors.

The risk factors

  • Two thirds of mouth cancer cases are linked to smoking tobacco.
  • A morning cigarette doubles the chances of developing the disease.
  • Smokers put themselves at almost three times higher risk.
  • …but cigars and pipe smokers put themselves at greater risk.
  • Ex-smokers reduce their risk by a third.
  • Second-hand smoke significantly increases the risk for those who have never smoked.
  • Smokeless tobacco use can increase the risk of developing mouth cancer by 15 times.
  • Drinking alcohol to excess is linked to around a third of all cases.
  • Those who smoke and drink to excess put themselves at risk by up to 30 times.
  • More than half of cases in the UK are linked to a poor diet.
  • Solar radiation from the sun has been linked to cancer of the lip.
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) is estimated to overtake smoking as the number one cause of mouth cancers in the future.
  • Mouth cancer is 2.5 times higher in those with periodontal disease.
  • …and is 60 times higher in people with six or more missing teeth.
  • Mouth cancer is 12 to 16 times higher in those who have previous been diagnosed with cancer.
  • Mouth cancer is 70% more common in those whose family have a history of the disease.

A silent killer

  • More than 2,000 people lose their life to mouth cancer in the UK every year.
  • There are more deaths from mouth cancer than there are through road traffic accidents.
  • Mouth cancer also claims more lives per year than cervical and testicular cancer combined.

Survival rates

  • Although the number of mouth cancer cases have increased steadily over the last decade, more people are being treated successfully and living for longer.
  • Early detection for mouth cancer results in a survival outcome of 90%….
  • However, delayed diagnosis means survival rates plummet to as little as 50%.

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