U.K. oral cancer survival rates not improving

2011 11 11 11 31 18 444 2011 11 11 Uk Cancer Chart

A professor of oral medicine at King's College London has expressed concern about the lack of improvement in U.K. oral cancer survival rates compared with other cancers.

The latest figures show a 41% increase in the occurrence of oral cancer in the U.K. in the last decade, according to Saman Warnakulasuriya, BDS, PhD.

He expressed his concerns during a speech at the launch of November's Mouth Cancer Action Month, sponsored by the British Dental Health Foundation.

"While the treatment of many cancers is leading to an improvement in survival rates, the same cannot be said for mouth cancer," Warnakulasuriya said. The proportion that dies has remained more or less constant."

Late presentation and also a lack of clinical trials introducing a new generation of anticancer medicines to combat oral cancer were the likely reasons for the disappointing improvement in survival rates, he suggested.

"However, it is encouraging that significant work is being done help improve the skills and knowledge of dental professionals, including the launch of a new Europe-wide website at www.oralcancerldv.org dedicated to the early detection and prevention of oral cancer," he said.

Throughout November, the British Dental Health Foundation is hoping to improve late presentation of oral cancer with its campaign message, "If in doubt, get checked out."

According to Cancer Research UK, in the last 10 years the mortality rate for all cancers in the U.K. has fallen by 9%. However, over the same period, the survival rate for men suffering from oral cancers has only improved by 5.5%, and for women diagnosed with oral cancer, mortality has worsened by 6.2%. Overall, oral cancer survival rates only improved by 2.3% between 1999 and 2008.

2011 11 11 11 31 18 444 2011 11 11 Uk Cancer Chart
Percentage change in the European age-standardized mortality rates, by sex, major cancers, U.K., 1999-2008. Source: Cancer Research UK.

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