Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

Mouth Cancer - how big a problem is it?

Swords Orthodontics is one of many dental practices all over Ireland that is offering FREE oral cancer screening on Wednesday September 18th 2013, which is national Mouth Cancer Awareness Day, and this is the first of a few articles about this disease.

Although it's not a widely discussed illness, the mouth is a relatively common area for cancer to occur. If you go to the cinema or watch TV, you might see an advert to get screened for cervical cancer. The public awareness for mouth cancer is a lot less, so I am going to be writing a series of blog posts about the disease, and what we - dentists and patients - can do to beat it.

How common is mouth cancer?

Cervical cancer accounts for about 2% of all cancers in women (about 1 in 50 of all cancers diagnosed in women will be cervical cancer). Mouth cancer also accounts for about 2% of all cancers in women (about 1 in 50 of all cancers diagnosed will be mouth cancer), but it also accounts for the same percentage in men, and when you add the two together, it's one of the 20 most common areas for cancer to occur.

Indeed, it's more common than brain cancer, myeloma or liver cancer.

In fact, it's more common than cervical cancer and thyroid cancer combined.

(These figures are for the UK, I don't have Irish figures handy as I'm writing, but you can expect them to be roughly similar. However, on a world wide basis, Mouth Cancer is the sixth most common cancer because it is very common in some large population countries like India and Pakistan.)


The 20 Most Common Cancers in 2010 
Number of New Cases, UK 
Cancer SiteMaleFemalePersons 
Breast (C50)3974956449961 
Lung (C33-C34)231751885142026 
Prostate (C61)40975 40975 
Bowel (C18-C20)228341786140695 
Malignant Melanoma (C43)6201661712818 
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (C82-C85)6538564212180 
Bladder (C67)7416290810324 
Kidney (C64-C66,C68)590637339639 
Oesophagus (C15)563728408477 
Pancreas (C25)418942748463 
Uterus (C54-C55) 82888288 
Leukaemia (C91-C95)481634418257 
Stomach (C16)464126257266 
Ovary (C56-C57) 70117011 
Oral (C00-C06,C09-C10,C12-C14)430722326539 
Brain and Central Nervous System, Invasive (C70-C72)283120864917 
Myeloma (C90)257021024672 
Liver (C22)267215694241 
Cervix (C53)028512851 
Thyroid (C73)74819062654 
Other Sites*187991618034979 
All Cancers Excluding Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (C00-C97 Excl. C44)164652162581327233 
*3% of all male and female cancer cases are registered without specification of the primary site

Source - Cancer Research UK

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info August 2013

Mouth cancer - getting better or worse?

Another aspect of the size of the problem is that oral cancer is on the increase.

Some cancers are less common than they were, and that's great news. I am using UK figures here, but they just don't see as much stomach cancer as they used to ten years ago, and for men, lung cancer and bladder cancer are less common than they were (although unfortunately lung cancer is on the increase for cancers in women). But mouth cancer is on the rise in men and women - about a 25%-30% increase overall. Compared to other cancers, it's the one that shows the third biggest increase.

The chart at the bottom compares the incidences in cancer for men in a three year period 1999-2001 with the incidences in a three year period 2008-2010 (about the start of the last decade to the end of it).

In a future article, I'll explain some more of the aspects of mouth cancer.


Percentage Change in European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, Males, UK
 Incidence Rates per 100,000
Cancer Site1999 - 20012008 - 2010Percentage Change in Incidence Rates
All Cancers Excluding Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (C00-C97 Excl. C44)419430.12.6
Bladder (C67)24.218.7-22.8
Bowel (C18-C20)56.658.43.1
Brain and Central Nervous System, Invasive (C70-C72)8.68.4-2.9
Connective Tissue (C47,C49)2.52.812.4
Hodgkin Lymphoma (C81)
Kidney (C64-C66,C68)12.415.726.2
Larynx (C32)6.25.3-14.5
Leukaemia (C91-C95)13.413.3-0.3
Liver (C22)4.76.844.3
Lung (C33-C34)70.459.6-15.3
Malignant Melanoma (C43)10.116.665.1
Mesothelioma (C45)
Myeloma (C90)6.16.914.2
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (C82-C85)15.717.712.4
Oesophagus (C15)13.814.77
Oral (C00-C06,C09-C10,C12-C14)9.612.126.1
Pancreas (C25)10.510.83.5
Prostate (C61)86104.822
Stomach (C16)18.112.3-32.2
Testis (C62)77.34.2



Prepared by Cancer Research UK
Original data sources:
1. Office for National Statistics. Cancer Statistics: Registrations Series MB1. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/search/index.html?newquery=series+mb1
2. Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit. http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk
3. Information Services Division Scotland. Cancer Information Programme. www.isdscotland.org/cancer
4. N. Ireland Cancer Registry. www.qub.ac.uk/nicr.


*Invasive brain and other central nervous system tumours (C70-C72)

Source - Cancer Research UK, changes in incidence of cancers in men with comparisons between 1999-2001 and 2008-2010

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info August 2013

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As part of Phase One of the National Reopening, Swords Orthodontics is now resuming routine orthodontic treatment.
There will be a few differences in how we do this specifically to deal with coronavirus, but you'll still be getting great orthodontic treatment.
We'll be in touch to reorganise your appointments, please don't attend without an appointment.