• The statistics throughout this resource are taken from “Trends in oral and oropharyngeal (mouth) cancer incidence in Wales, 2001-2013” published in November 2015 by the Dental Public Health Team, Public Health Wales Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Public Health
  • Approximately 300 people in Wales are diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal (mouth) cancers each year.
  • The main risk factors for these types of cancers are tobacco use and drinking alcohol. Smoking and drinking together multiply their individual risk. HPV (human papilloma virus) infection is also considered to be a major risk factor.
  • The incidence rate in men is double that in women, and is increasing in both sexes.
  • The highest incidence in men is now in the 55-74 age group. However, the largest increase in incidence of 128% occurred in younger adult men (aged 35-44years), from 2001-2003 to 2011-2013.
  • All age groups in women have seen an increase in incidence since 2001. The largest increase of 82% occurred in the age group 65-74 years, from 2001-2003 to 2011-2013.
  • This is the first time national staging data has been published in Wales for oral and oropharyngeal cancers. During 2011-2013, the majority (59%)1 of people diagnosed with one of these cancers had the most advanced stage (stage 4).
  • The percentage of people diagnosed with these cancers who survived at least one year gradually increased over the past decade. By the period 2010-2012, the one-year survival was 82% for both men and women. However, the five-year relative survival rate of 55% hardly changed from 2001 to 2008.
  • Lack of awareness of mouth cancer amongst patients is a major reason for late presentation, so make patients aware of the signs and symptoms, particularly if they are at greater risk of disease as a result of smoking, drinking, HPV or Betel quid use.
  • Careful examination is vital
  • Onward referral is essential if you are suspicious and there should be a safety net to ensure it has been achieved
  • Be aware of
    • lesions (red or white) which have been present for more two weeks
    • painless ulcers of greater than 2 weeks duration
    • Mouth lesions that are firm to palpation
  • A Practice based meeting resource can be found here


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