Mouth cancer cases are rising in the UK - these are the key symptoms to look out for

mouth cancer causes
Mouth cancer is rising: look out for this symptomNILS KAHLE - Getty Images

Cases of mouth cancer are on the rise in the UK, with recent statistics from the Oral Health Foundation showing the number of people with the disease has increased by 36% over the past decade. The new report estimates that 3,034 lose their life to the cancer within a year, too, with there being a 20% rise in the number of deaths over the last five years.

Now, keen to raise awareness of the symptoms associated with mouth cancer, in the hopes of more people catching the disease during an earlier stage, experts are speaking out to warn of lifestyle choices that can increase your risk of developing mouth cancer, and the signs to be aware of.

What are the symptoms of mouth cancer?

Some people may not be aware that they have mouth cancer for quite a while, as the signs can be subtle to begin with, or easily confused with order ailments. Doctors say the mouth cancer symptoms to look out for include:

  • A mouth ulcer that doesn't heal after three weeks

  • Red or white patches in the mouth

  • Unusual lumps or swellings, not only in the mouth, but around the head or neck area in general

  • Persistent hoarseness

It's also important to check your whole mouth, including the tongue (which is where a third of mouth cancers are discovered), as well as the roof and floor of your mouth, gums and lips.

mouth cancer symptoms
Doucefleur - Getty Images

Speaking about the new research and how we can lower of risk of disease, Dr Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said: "While most cancers are on the decrease, cases of mouth cancer continue to rise at an alarming rate. Traditional causes like smoking and drinking alcohol to excess are quickly being caught up by emerging risk factors like the human papillomavirus (HPV).

"The stigma around mouth cancer has changed dramatically. It’s now a cancer that really can affect anybody. We have seen first-hand the devastating affect mouth cancer can have on a person's life. It changes how somebody speaks, it makes eating and drinking more difficult, and often changes a person's physical appearance."

The new report has been released to coincide with Mouth Cancer Action Month, which takes place throughout the whole of November.

To find out more, or how to support Mouth Cancer Action Month, visit the Mouth Cancer Foundation website.

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