Dramatic Rise in Mouth Cancers

Awareness of HPV virus needs to be improved.

A UK health charity has called for an increased awareness of the HPV virus, especially amongst younger people, following a reported increase of 88% in mouth cancers since the 1970’s. Many readers of Mike Allen’s dental blogs will be all too aware of the risk that smoking and heavy drinking can bring to your oral health, and that mouth cancer risk is significantly higher amongst these groups.

With smoking slowly being withdrawn from common use, it is not difficult to be critical of a habit which can inflict severe health damage in a number of ways. It is more difficult, however, for our Burton dentists to raise awareness of the HPV virus as this is largely transferred via oral sex; so perhaps slightly embarrassing for some patients to discuss.


The reality is that HPV (human papilloma virus) is responsible for much of the increase in mouth cancer cases and cannot be ignored. Unless we face up to this fact, lives will be put at risk, and if embarrassment is the cost of more awareness, then so be it. It is probably not well known that, despite the higher profile of testicular and cervical cancer, mouth cancer actually kills two thousand people each year, more than the other two combined.

Getting HPV does not have to be a death sentence though, and, in fact, many sexually active people will get it at some point in their life, usually with no health implications developing and the virus losing its effect within two years. This is not always the case though, and for those who do develop health issues, this can be very serious indeed.

Oral checks and vaccinations

Currently there are vaccinations against the HPV virus, but these are only available to school age girls to help protect them against cervical cancers. This is obviously a positive thing but leaves boys completely unprotected. The British Dental Health Foundation (https://www.dentalhealth.org/) is now leading calls for the vaccination to be extended to protect both men and women from this virus.

Whether the risk of mouth cancers comes from the HPV virus or from smoking and excess drinking though, professional oral health checks, as part of your regular examinations at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, are key to early detection of any potential cancer signs. By checking for any symptoms such as soreness or red patches in the mouth, our Burton dentists are in an excellent position to enable early diagnosis to be achieved. This significantly improves the success rate of any treatment that might be needed and is yet one more reason to ensure that you don’t miss your dental appointments.

If you haven’t had an oral examination in the last six months and live in the Burton area, why not contact Mike Allen’s on 01283 845345 and make sure that you have your mouth checked soon.