Oral cancer is currently the tenth most common cancer in men, according to Cancer Research UK.
Research has revealed that 7,300 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in the UK in 2012 and twice as many men than women were diagnosed with the disease (4,900 males and 2,400 females).
Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK's lead GP, said: “The combination of tobacco, drinking alcohol and HPV provides a toxic cocktail that has led to this rising tide of cancers, so it’s vital that people are aware of how to reduce their risk.”
According to Cancer Research UK, the incidence rate of the disease has increased by over a third in ten years, rising from nine per 100,000 people in 2002 to twelve per 100,000 in 2012.
In addition, of the 2,300 people who passed away from oral cancer in the UK last year, around 1,500 were men and 770 women.
Oral cancers include cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth (gums and palate), tonsils and the middle part of the throat (oropharynx).
Research suggests that around nine out of ten oral cancer cases in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors, with 65 per cent of diagnosed cases linked to tobacco smoking.
The human papilloma virus (HPV), alcohol consumption and a diet low in fruit and vegetables have also been linked to oral cancer.
Dr Roope, added: “It’s a real concern that oral cancer cases continue to climb and has now broken into the top ten most common cancers in men, especially as the majority of cases are preventable.
“The combination of tobacco, drinking alcohol and HPV provides a toxic cocktail that has led to this rising tide of cancers, so it’s vital that people are aware of how to reduce their risk.
“If oral cancer is found at a late stage, treatment options are more likely to be limited with long-lasting side effects and the chances of survival are poor. It’s because of this that we’re working to raise awareness of the risk factors of the disease as well as helping doctors and GPs spot the signs and symptoms and have the knowledge they need to act.”
Due to the sharp rise in oral cancer cases, Cancer Research UK is launching a new toolkit for dentists and GPs to help try and spot the disease earlier.
Professor Richard Shaw, a head and neck surgeon based at the University of Liverpool involved in developing the GP and dentist toolkit, commented: “We know that the vast majority of oral cancer cases could be prevented, so it’s important that people know how to reduce the risk of the disease through lifestyle factors.
“Alongside this, it’s vital that GPs and dentists can spot signs and symptoms of the disease to help catch it early and that they feel confident in knowing the next steps they should take in referring patients for further tests.”
The toolkit for health professionals features images of oral cancer signs and symptoms and outlines how GPs and dentists should refer patients for further tests.
Professor Damien Walmsley, chief scientific advisor to the British Dental Association, has recognised the importance of preventing the disease. He said: “If oral cancer is spotted early survival rates can reach 90 per cent. Delay is costing lives, so it’s vital that front line health professionals have the tools and the information to reduce the risk of the disease and get patients diagnosed as quickly as possible.
“We are proud to team up with Cancer Research UK, and we urge all those who work in the oral health field to make use of this toolkit.”
For more information about oral cancer visit and for access to the tool-kit visit: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/mouth-cancer/.