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What is Mouth Cancer Action Month?

November 1, 2017 by acornvillas-dp

What is Mouth Cancer Action Month?

Mouth Cancer Action Month is a charity campaign which aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and make a difference by saving thousands of lives through early detection and prevention.

Throughout November we will be aiming to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by increasing education of the risk factors and signs and symptoms while encouraging everybody to discuss them with their dental professional.

As long-time campaigners for mouth cancer, everybody at the Oral Health Foundation is passionate and committed to increasing awareness of the disease and reducing the number of lives lost to it every year.

In the UK, more than 7,000 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year. The disease has grown by a third in the last decade and remains one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years… that’s why Mouth Cancer Action Month is so important.

Although there are risk factors heavily linked to the disease, mouth cancer can affect anybody – that’s why it’s so important that we all know what to look out for. The campaign is all about taking action.

Don’t leave a mouth ulcer unattended for more than three weeks. Don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swellings or red and white patches in your mouth.

Early detection could save your life. If you notice any changes in your mouth please speak to a dentist or doctor immediately.

Mouth cancer takes the lives of more than 2,000 people each year in the UK, which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined. Mouth cancer also takes more lives a year than road traffic accidents. By knowing more about the risk factors, living healthier lifestyles and by learning what to look out we can help reduce our risk and lower the number of lives that mouth cancer effects.


Risk Factors

Although mouth cancer can affect anybody, and is strongly associated with the age and gender of a person, around 91% of all diagnoses are linked to lifestyle.  This means that by amending our lifestyle choices, we can help cut the chances of developing mouth cancer.  Here are the risk factors that have been shown to play a major role in contracting the disease.


The health implications of smoking are well documented, but mouth cancer often gets overlooked.  The majority of mouth cancer cases continue to be as result of smoking and tobacco use.  Around one in five people in the UK currently smoke, which accounts for roughly two in every three mouth cancer cases.

There are thousands of chemicals contained in a single cigarette, and their point of entry is the mouth.  Smoking helps to transforms saliva into a deadly cocktail that damages cells in the mouth and can turn them cancerous.

The danger is that smokers are three time more likely than non-smokers to develop mouth cancer and seven times more likely to be diagnosed with throat cancer, while a morning cigarette has been shown to double those chances further.  But it is never too late to make a difference….

Research has shown that ex-smokers reduce their risk of mouth cancer by more than a third.  And with around two thirds of smokers admitting they would like to kick the habit, Mouth Cancer Action Month is the perfect time to do just that.


Drinking alcohol to excess is another major risk factor linked with mouth cancer – associated with around a third of all cases.  The key is the excess part.  An occasional glass of wine here and there is considered much better than drinking the bottle in a single evening.  Moderation really is important.

The danger group are those who smoke and drink alcohol to excess.  These people increase their risk of mouth cancer by up to 30 times.  For those who do smoke and drink, please be aware of this risk.  It is especially important that this group visits the dentist regularly so they can examine your mouth.

Mouth cancer risk is not associated with use of alcohol-containing mouthwash.

The Human papillomavirus

There’s no easy way to say this, but oral sex is becoming a problem.  In fact, many experts believe the Human papillomavirus (HPV), transmitted mostly through oral sex, will overtake tobacco use as the main cause of mouth cancer within the next decade.

HPV is very common and almost every sexually-active person will get HPV at some time in their lives. Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems.  90% of HPV infections go away by themselves within two years and don’t affect the health of most people.  But sometimes HPV infections persist and may cause a variety of serious problems. Including:

Despite HPV’s impact on the health of both sexes, the UK’s HPV immunisation programme is exclusively for females due to its risk with cervical cancer.  In the UK, girls aged 12/13 have been vaccinated routinely, mostly via a school-based programme, since 2008.  We are working hard, alongside other bodies and associations to readdress this inequality and fight for a gender-neutral vaccination.

You can find out more about HPV and the gender-neutral vaccination campaign at


Up to half of all mouth cancer cases are partly due to poor diet.  A diet rich in fruit and vegetables will not only keep your body fit and healthy, it will help to reduce the risk of mouth cancer.

Non-starchy vegetables and fruits (not salted or pickled), and foods containing carotenoids, can actually help to reduce mouth cancer risk.  Mouth cancer risk is lower in people with the highest intake of the following foods, versus those with the lowest intake, research has shown have shown:

Chewing or smokeless tobacco

Although some believe this type of tobacco is safer than smoking, the reality is that it is much more dangerous. Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco is a serious risk to a person’s health. Both contain nicotine, which is a very addictive drug.  In fact, there is twice as much nicotine in smokeless tobacco as in an average cigarette. As well as increasing the risk of mouth cancer by up to four times, it causes problems for the heart by tightening blood vessels and raising blood pressure.  One can of chewing tobacco can release as much nicotine into your body as 60 cigarettes.


Second-hand or environmental tobacco smoke has been named a probable cause of mouth cancer.  Mouth cancer risk is 87% higher in those who have never smoked and that have been exposed to tobacco smoke at home or work, compared with unexposed non-smokers.  Studies have also shown that the risk of mouth cancer is more than twice as high in people who have never smoked exposed to second-hand smoke at home or work for 15 years or more, compared with unexposed never-smokers.


Get in touch with us today

We offer comprehensive dental care on a private basis for adults, including prevention and cosmetic dentistry. You can choose to pay for your dental care as you receive it or join Denplan, a budgeting scheme that allows you to make monthly payments.

Call us today on:
01943 607474

Alternatively, you can contact us using the form on the right:

If you have an out of hours emergency, please telephone 01943 607474 and follow the instructions on the answer phone.

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