Articles Why You Shouldn’t Skip an Oral Cancer Screening
Did you know that the number of people affected by oral cancer in the UK is increasing every year? In 2012, more than 6,700 people were diagnosed with oral cancer, representing a significant increase from just a decade ago. With oral cancer cases on the rise, we are determined to raise awareness and spread the message that screening can save lives.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer affects the soft tissue in the throat and mouth. Although it only accounts for two percent of cancer cases in the UK, the number of cases is increasing year on year and therefore, it’s really important that people are aware of the causes and risk factors and the symptoms they should be looking out for.
One of the most important reasons for promoting screening is that it increases the chances of early diagnosis, which contributes to improved survival chances. The current survival rate is around 50 percent, but this increases to up to 90 percent when the illness is diagnosed in its earlier stages.
Risk factors for oral cancer include drinking alcohol excessively, smoking and HPV infection. Drinkers who also smoke are almost 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with mouth cancer than non-smokers who drink infrequently. In recent years, the number of younger people affected by oral cancer has increased significantly, and experts believe that this is linked to HPV (human papilloma virus). HPV is very common and there are hundreds of different strains. Most are harmless, but some increase the risk of oral cancer. HPV is also associated with cervical cancer.
The main symptoms of oral cancer include:
- mouth ulcers and sores that take a long time to heal
- white or red patches in the mouth
- abnormal lumps
About oral cancer screening
Screening is a means of identifying changes in the oral tissue. We use advanced technology to detect these changes before they become visible to the naked eye and this means that treatment can be provided at the earliest stage, when it is much more likely to prove successful. Screening only takes a few minutes and it shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable.
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