Oral Cancer can be detected by your dentist during your routine oral examination, and also by your hygienist during routine maintenance visits. If you are unlucky to develop this disease it is essential that it is detected and treated as soon as possible, the speed with which you receive treatment can have a huge impact on the prognosis. Ock Street Clinic is working to help the people of Abingdon and Oxfordshire avoid the worst effects of mouth cancer by checking every patient at every examination and hygienist visit, and arranging for further investigation and treatment whenever this is needed by urgent referral to the appropriate local experts.
In 2008 there were 5,790 new cases of mouth diagnosed in the UK and 1,822 deaths from the disease. Mouth cancer is increasing in prevalence rapidly, by a staggering 45.9% between 1997 and 2008. Scotland has the highest mouth cancer incidence rate in the UK and worldwide it has been estimated that 405,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. 87% of cases in the UK occur in people aged 50 or over.
Under half of those diagnosed survive beyond five years of diagnosis and over two thirds of mouth cancer cases are detected at a late stage, reducing chances of survival. Early detection transforms survival chances to more than 90%.What are the risk factors?
Around a fifth of the UK’s population smoke and the habit is still considered the leading cause of mouth cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, up to half of current smokers will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease, including mouth cancer. Smoking helps to transforms saliva into a deadly cocktail that damages cells in the mouth and can turn them cancerous. Around two thirds of smokers want to quit - ask the team at Ock Street Clinic for information about giving up smoking.
Drinking to excess can increase mouth cancer risks by four times. As alcohol aids the absorption of tobacco into the mouth, those who smoke and drink to excess are up to 30 times more likely to develop the disease.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Oral Sex
The Human Papilloma Virus, transmitted via oral sex, is increasingly being linked to mouth cancer. Younger people are particularly at risk. A recent study in the USA has connected over 20,000 mouth cancer cases to HPV in the last five years. Experts suggest it may rival tobacco and alcohol as a key risk factor within 10 years, although some research indicates that people with mouth cancer caused by HPV may have a greater chance of survival. People with multiple sexual partners are more at risk.
Around a third of cases are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet. It is recommended that people eat a healthy, balanced diet including five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Increasing evidence also suggests that Omega 3, found in foods such as eggs and fish can help lower risks, as can foods high in fibre such as nuts, seeds, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice.
Smokeless tobacco is normally defined as any tobacco product that is placed in the mouth or nose and not burned. Although some people believe this type of tobacco is safer than smoking, the reality is that it is much more dangerous. The types of smokeless tobacco products most used in the UK often contain a mix of ingredients including slaked lime, areca nut and spices, flavourings and sweeteners. Smokeless tobacco is used particularly by South Asian Communities, and groups of people particularly at risk appear to be women, those from Bangladeshi origin and those in lower socioeconomic groups.