Sexually transmitted virus cause mouth cancers also............no joke
Oral cancer cases in the UK have
risen to more than 6,000 a year for the first time, new figures from Cancer
Research UK show.
Experts think an increase in human
papillomavirus (HPV) infections, transmitted through oral sex, are behind the
Oral cancer rates in the UK have
risen by around a quarter in the last 10 years, from around six to eight cases
per 100,000 people. Around two thirds of cases occur in men.
Smoking and alcohol are major risk
factors for oral cancer. But oral cancers tend to take at least a decade to
develop, and smoking rates in the UK have more than halved in the past 30
Experts say that an increase in
alcohol consumption by Brits cannot fully explain the rise in oral cancer
rates, suggesting other factors are involved.
Up to eight out of 10 people in the
UK are infected with HPV at some point in their lives. Many strains of the
virus are harmless, and the infections often get better without treatment.
However, a few "high-risk" strains, such as HPV-16, can persist and
cause cell changes which can develop into cancer.
Experts have noted particularly
sharp rises in the incidence rates of cancers at the base of the tongue (an
almost 90% increase) and the tonsil (around a 70% increase) – two areas of the
mouth where cancers are more commonly HPV-related.
Richard Shaw, an expert in head and
neck cancers at the Liverpool Cancer Research UK Centre, said: "We have
seen a rapid increase in the number of HPV16-positive cases of oral cancer.
"We have also noticed that
patients with HPV-related oral cancers tend to be younger, are less likely to
be smokers and have better outcomes from treatment than those whose tumours
show no evidence of HPV."
Sara Hiom, director of information
at Cancer Research UK, said: "It's worrying to see such a big rise in oral
cancer rates. But like many other cancers, if oral cancer is caught early,
there is a better chance of successful treatment.
"So it's really important for
people to know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer - mainly mouth ulcers that
just won’t heal, any lumps or thickening in the mouth, lips or throat, or red
or white patches in the mouth that won’t go away.
"It’s not just doctors who have
a vital role to play. If you’re worried about any of these symptoms you can see
your dentist as well.
"Dentists have an important
role to play in spotting oral cancer early and encouraging their patients to
take care of their mouths. So make sure you attend regular dental