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Mouth Cancer Action Month

Mouth Cancer Action Month

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, organised by the Oral Health Foundation and supported by the Mouth Cancer Foundation. This campaign is dedicated to helping and supporting those suffering from or at risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer and other head and neck cancers.

Mouth cancer or oral cancer is one of the most common types of head and neck cancer. Mouth cancer can develop in any part of the mouth; the surface of the tongue, the lining of the cheeks, the palate, the lips or gums.

Throughout November, thousands of people raise awareness of mouth cancer and share the important message of being 'mouth aware'. It’s important to learn more about the risk factors, signs and symptoms and where to go if you spot anything out of the ordinary.

The facts

  • Around 2,701 people in the United Kingdom lose their life to mouth cancer every year
  • 23 people in the UK are diagnosed with mouth cancer every day
  • Mouth cancer kills one person every 3 hours in the UK because of late detection
  • Mouth cancer claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined
  • Around one in six (17%) mouth cancers are directly caused by smoking
  • In men, mouth cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the UK, with around 5,454 new cases a year
  • In women, mouth cancer is the 16th most common cancer in the UK, with around 2,666 new cases a year
  • More than three in four (76%) mouth cancers are diagnosed in people over the age of 55

How to spot mouth cancer

Spotting mouth cancer early is crucial for beating the disease. Early detection boosts the chances of survival from 50% to 90%. It’s important to know what to look out for particularly if you are at risk of developing mouth cancer. If you are a smoker, have a poor diet, drink more than 10 units of alcohol a week, or even chew types of smokeless tobacco, you may be more at risk of getting mouth cancer.

During Mouth Cancer Action Month, the message is ‘if in doubt, get checked out’.  It’s important to encourage as many people as possible to be mouth aware. Check the cheeks, gums, lips, roof and floor of mouth, head and neck.

A few things to look out for are:

  • Ulcers that last longer than three weeks
  • Lumps or swelling in the neck or face
  • Red and white patches in the mouth or on cheeks
  • Lumps on the lips or changes in texture or colour


There are three main treatments for mouth cancer:

  • Surgery to remove the cancerous cells
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

Treatment will also focus on mouth exercises to preserve crucial functions including breathing, speaking and eating.


We’ve covered the risks of developing mouth cancer, so the three most effective ways of preventing the cause of mouth cancer developing and returning are; quitting smoking, following the recommended weekly guideline for alcohol consumption and sticking to a healthy balanced diet including plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and oily fish.

For more information about mouth cancer or to take part in the campaign, visit:

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When you take a Lifestyle, Lifestyle Plus or Elite Private Health Insurance policy out with us, you will receive full cancer cover. Take a look at our benefit table and get your free online quote today!

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