UK Reports Rise in Cases of Oral Cancer

by Symptom Advice on March 18, 2012

Cancer Research UK recently revealed that cases of oral cancer are on the rise in the United Kingdom, an increase attributed to increasing rates of infection by human papillomavirus (HPV).

For the first time, cases of oral cancer have increased above 6,000 a year. Two-thirds of the 6,200 cases that were diagnosed in the United Kingdom last year involved men.

As many as 8 in 10 Britons may become infected with HPV at a certain point in their lives. The virus is essentially harmless, except for a few strains that cause problems. one particular strain, identified as HPV-16, may lead to changes in the cell that may develop into cancer.

“We have seen a rapid increase in the number of HPV16-positive cases of oral cancer,” Richard Shaw, a Cancer Research UK expert in head and neck cancers based at the Liverpool Cancer Research UK Center, shared. “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. This raises questions as to exactly how these cancers develop and why they only affect a small proportion of people who are exposed.”

Sara Hiom, director of information at Cancer Research UK, said that it was important for people to become aware of the symptoms of oral cancer, as early detection of the disease increases one’s chances of survival. these symptoms include mouth ulcers that do not heal; lumps or thickening in the mouth, lips, or throat; or persistent red and white patches in the mouth.

Tags: human papillomavirus, oral cancer in UK, oral cancer virus

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