Researchers in a new survey observe that many people are still not very much aware of oral cancer and its risk factors. Oral and throat cancers account for about 4% of all malignancies. The warning signs can be investigated by a dentist and early diagnosis often leads to a cure. But, as a survey by dental experts at New York University shows, not everyone is aware of the risk.
The survey was part of a three day oral cancer screening programme. Of the 750 participants, 60 per cent had heard of oral cancer, but only 40 per cent knew you could have an oral cancer examination (ask your dentist about this). And only 12 per cent had ever had such an exam.
70% were aware that tobacco is a risk factor for oral cancer (it's responsible for 80 per cent of all oral and throat cancers), but only 20 per cent knew that heavy alcohol use is also a contributing influence. Excessive sunlight may increase the risk of lip cancer - and 25 per cent of the group knew this.
Researchers feel that dentists might do more to raise awareness of oral cancers, say the researchers. If you have symptoms such as a mouth ulcer or lip sore that doesn't heal, see your doctor or dentist without delay.