Shocking increase in oral cancer cases

  • Dental check-ups offer regular visual screening for oral cancer
  • Cancer Research UK figures ‘alarming’
  • Cigarettes a ‘blind spot’ in links with a healthy mouth

In the last ten years, we have seen a dramatic increase in mouth cancer cases in the UK.

President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, Michaela O’Neil recently wrote that the increase was “alarming” and there was a general lack of general awareness of the extreme dangers smoking has on our oral health and mouth cancer in particular.

The potentially fatal health risks associated with smoking – heart disease, strokes and links with other cancers are well engrained.

But what Michaela describes as a “blind spot” remains a worrying issue of smoking’s relationship with their oral health.

As dental practitioners at North Street Dental and Implant Clinic, we too find it disturbing that in a single decade, cancer incidence rates have increased by more than a third (34%), which means more than 7,500 people are now told they have mouth cancer every year.

If you wish to check out the figures, they’re available at Cancer Research UK.

Shocking increase in oral cancer cases

Smoking a significant cause of oral cancer

Did you know that mouth cancer is now the 10th most common cancer in men in the UK and 15th most common in women?

Overall, mouth cancer is the 14th most common cancer in Britain. Should the current trend continue, it is on track to rapidly move upwards.

According to information put out by the Oral Health Foundation, almost two-thirds of oral cancers are the result of smoking.

Stunningly, research from the British Dental Health Foundation revealed that one in four people did not think that smoking was a cause of mouth cancer.

We are non-judgmental but would encourage all of our patients to avoid smoking.

Do dentists smoke? Of course they do, but it doesn’t change the clinical findings or the stance we take. Smoking is terrible for your mouth, and we have a responsibility to advise accordingly.

Smoking attributes to around 5,000 oral cancers in the UK every year and while we acknowledge stopping smoking will not guarantee a zero chance of oral cancer diagnosis, ex-smokers reduce their risk by a third compared to current smokers.

That equates to around 1,700 people who could be spared this awful disease that affect things we take for granted such as eating, drinking, speaking and even breathing.

This undoubtedly has a substantial psychological effect on a person.

Shocking increase in oral cancer cases - cigarette

Smoking attributes to around 5,000 oral cancers in the UK every year

Our check-up has a visual screening for oral cancer

Some tumours are hidden, but our team is in an excellent position to spot the early signs and instigate urgent referrals for treatment.

Quite apart from the cancer risk, smoking weakens the body’s infection immune system and heightens chances of gum disease.

Simply put, smokers have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a nonsmoker, and the more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk for gum disease.

Oh, and don’t forget tobacco use in any form – cigarettes, pipes, and smokeless (tobacco chew) – still significantly raises your risk for gum disease.

Finally, with some dental therapies treatments, we expressly ask our patients not to smoke. We’re not taking any high ground here with some moral stance, but there will be a genuine reason our practitioners make that request, and it will be in your oral health’s interest.

If you are without a dentist, who in your regular maintenance check-ups will give a visual screening for oral cancer, we’d ask you to consider our friendly, family-focused, independent North Street practice. Feel free to call us; we have some of the keenest Practice Plan deals in the Midlands. Visit our consultation page for more information.