A new nationwide survey in aid of Mouth Cancer Action Month has found that too many of us remain unaware of the major causes of mouth cancer (which include smoking, excess alcohol consumption, poor diet, oral sex and kissing).

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, the campaign organisers, said of the study: “These results are particularly concerning and demonstrate how little is known about mouth cancer. Cases of mouth cancer have increased by more than a third in the last decade alone, which means it is becoming increasingly important that we know what to look out for so that we can take the necessary measures to protect ourselves against it.

The myths identified in the poll did not just extend to the risk factors however. Many of us were also unable to identify the signs of mouth cancer, with almost half of those surveyed believing gum disease is a sign of mouth cancer.

“While gum disease is a very serious matter it is not related to mouth cancer. Instead people should be on the lookout for mouth ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red or while patches in the mouth and any unusual swellings, if they have any of these signs then they should visit a dentist or doctor as soon as possible.

“If in doubt, get checked out.”

“Throughout Mouth Cancer Action Month during November we want to raise awareness of mouth cancer. By understanding the risk factors as well as being able to spot the early warning signs and symptoms we can get more cancers diagnosed at an early stage which dramatically increases the chances of successful treatment.”

Dr Carter added: “As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, the British Dental Health Foundation and campaign sponsors Denplan, are asking everybody to be ‘mouthaware’ and be more alert for any changes that might occur inside the mouth.

“Early detection of mouth cancer can give you a near 90 per cent chance of survival. If you present with symptoms that you have been unaware of or have left for too long, your chances of surviving can drop to 50 per cent. Keeping regular dental appointments and visiting your dentist if you notice any changes inside the mouth really could save your life.”

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