Rates of mouth cancer have jumped by 68 per cent in the UK over the last 20 years, according to a new report. The figures show that the cancer is on the rise for men and women, young and old, climbing from eight to 13 cases per 100,000 people over the last two decades. For men under 50, the rate has jumped by 67 per cent in the last 20 years - going up from around 340 cases to around 640 cases each year. For men aged 50 and over, rates have increased by 59 per cent climbing from around 2,100 cases to around 4,400 cases annually. Oral cancer is more common in men, but there have been similar increases women. In women under 50, oral cancer rates have risen by 71 per cent in the last 20 years, with annual cases climbing from around 160 to around 300. Rates for women over 50 have also gone up by 71 per cent, with cases increasing from around 1,100 to around 2,200. Around nine in 10 cases are linked to lifestyle and other risk factors.
Smoking is the biggest avoidable risk factor, linked to an estimated 65 per cent of cases. Other risk factors include alcohol, diets low in fruit and vegetables, and infections with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Oral cancers include cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth (gums and palate), tonsils and the middle part of the throat (oropharynx). "It's worrying that oral cancer has become more common. It's important to get to know your body and what's normal for you, to help spot the disease as early as possible," said Jessica Kirby, Cancer Research UK's senior health information manager. "An ulcer or sore in your mouth or tongue that won't go away, a lump on your lip or in your mouth, a red or red and white patch in your mouth or an unexplained lump in your neck are all things to look out for," said Kirby.
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