Mouth cancer – which is linked to poor diet, drinking and smoking – is now the 10th most common cancer in men, according to new figures.
Data released by Cancer Research UK showed around 7,300 people were diagnosed with oral cancer (commonly called mouth cancer) in the UK in 2012.
Twice as many men (around 4,900) as women (2,400) were diagnosed with the disease, mostly due to the fact they smoke more.
In 2002, there were nine cases of oral cancer per 100,000 people, rising to 12 per 100,000 in 2012.
Some 2,300 people die from oral cancer in the UK every year – 1,500 men and around 770 women.
Oral cancers include cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth (gums and palate), tonsils and the middle part of the throat (oropharynx).
Symptoms include a sore that does not heal, a lump or thickening of the skin or lining of the mouth, a white or reddish patch on the inside of the mouth, tongue pain, jaw stiffness or difficult or painful chewing.
An estimated 65% of oral cancers in the UK are linked to smoking, while the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV), drinking alcohol and having a diet low in fruit and vegetables have also been linked.
Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK’s lead GP, said: “It’s a real concern that oral cancer cases continue to climb and has now broken into the top 10 most common cancers in men, especially as the majority of cases are preventable.
“The combination of tobacco, drinking alcohol and HPV provides a toxic cocktail that has led to this rising tide of cancers, so it’s vital that people are aware of how to reduce their risk.
“If oral cancer is found at a late stage, treatment options are more likely to be limited with long-lasting side effects and the chances of survival are poor.”
Professor Damien Walmsley, chief scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said: “If oral cancer is spotted early, survival rates can reach 90%.”
Cancer Research UK is launching a new toolkit for dentists and GPs to help try and spot the disease earlier.