There has been a dramatic increase in the cases of mouth cancer in the UK in the past decade. Despite this, public awareness of this disease remains relatively low. We need to work together to increase general awareness of the dangers smoking has on our oral health.
Although most people are aware of the health risks associated with smoking, many people fail to acknowledge the relationship between smoking and oral health. Mouth cancer is very much on the rise – statistics released by Cancer Research UK indicate that in the last decade alone, oral cancer rates have increased by more than 34% (in excess of 7,500 people every year). Mouth cancer is the 10th most common cancer for men in the UK, and the 15th most common for women. Overall, it is the 14th most common cancer in Britain.
So how do we tackle a problem like this?
The British Dental Health Foundation revealed that 1 in 4 of us did not think smoking was a cause of mouth cancer – this is an issue we need to tackle head on. Awareness needs to be spread regarding the link between smoking and mouth cancer. Dental professionals have a responsibility to educate patients about the risks of smoking, and what they can do to reduce these risks, while patients need to make a conscious effort to take this information on-board.
As a smoker, how can you reduce your risks of getting mouth cancer?
Unfortunately kicking the habit will not completely dismiss the chance of being diagnosed with mouth cancer, but ex-smokers can reduce the risk by a third, compared to current smokers.
Many cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed too late to be treated properly – one way of minimalising this risk is for dental professionals and patients to talk more openly about the effects of mouth cancer.
Dental professionals are often the first line of attack in fighting against mouth cancer (as well as many other health issues too), meaning they are in the perfect position to detect mouth cancer early enough to make a different to a person’s life.
If you think you could be at risk of mouth cancer, or would like to discuss the risks, you can book an appointment here.