The number of mouth cancer diagnoses has reached an all time high, according to a new study.

According to a report from the Oral Health Foundation, 8,864 people in the UK were diagnosed with the condition last year, a 36% increase from a decade ago, with 3,034 people dying as a result.

That is a 40% increase in deaths in the last decade.

Mouth cancer symptoms can painless, making them difficult to detect.

A mouth ulcer that does not heal within three weeks, white or red spots in the mouth, strange lumps or swellings in the mouth, head, or neck, or chronic hoarseness in the voice are all potential warning signs.

One in every three oral cancers is detected on the tongue, with the tonsils accounting for 23%.

People with diabetes are more at risk of developing certain types of cancer – in particular pancreatic, liver, colorectal, breast, bladder and endometrial cancer.

However, there is mixed evidence for the association of diabetes with head and neck cancers.

People with diabetes had an elevated risk of cancer at particular head and neck cancer subsites, such as oral cancer, in some studies, but not in others.

Common causes of mouth cancer include smoking and drinking.

However, human papillomavirus (HPV) is now an emerging risk factor.

Dr Nigel Carter, Oral Health Foundation Chief Executive said: “We urge everybody to become more mouth aware by being able to recognise the early warning signs of mouth cancer and to be aware of the common causes.”

“Most importantly, if you notice anything unusual, please don’t delay and seek help from a doctor or dentist.”

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