Mouth cancer symptoms and risks remain a mystery to the majority

A survey of 11,785 British adults has found that 70% say they are unaware of any of the symptoms of mouth cancer. Simplyhealth's Annual Dental Survey 2012 also found that only 3% of individuals think kissing can increase your chances of developing mouth cancer. The healthcare provider's findings highlight the need to educate the population on the main risks and symptoms of a cancer that's on the increase*.

James Glover, spokesperson for Simplyhealth says: "While 85% of people surveyed recognise that smoking tobacco can increase their chances of developing mouth cancer, there is a lack of awareness about other potential risks. Our findings follow recent news from Cancer Research UK that high risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections which are spread through bodily contact could be the key reason for the increase in mouth cancer, particularly among younger people**. Although this risk cannot be avoided in the same way as not smoking, it's important for people to know what makes us all susceptible to this type of cancer."

Michael Thomas, a practicing dentist says: "As well as knowing the risks, individuals should be educated in identifying the symptoms. As with all cancers, the sooner it is identified, the better. Worryingly, only 28% of those surveyed by Simplyhealth would consider consulting or have consulted with their dentist about concerns or queries over mouth cancer. Dentists are integral to addressing any worries individuals may have about the health of their mouth. I'd encourage everyone to utilise their time in the dentist's chair and speak up should they have any questions about the risks or symptoms of mouth cancer."

Michael Thomas has put together the below 'cut out and keep' guide to the main risks and most common symptoms of mouth cancer:

The main risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Poor diet and nutrition
  • Sun exposure (lips)
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) which affects the immune system and can be spread by kissing and bodily contact (most strains of HPV are harmless but a few are high risk)

Previous cancer diagnosis

Most common symptoms:

  • A mouth sore or ulcer that fails to heal or bleeds easily
  • All red or red and white patches in the mouth that will not go away
  • A lump or thickening in the mouth, tongue or throat
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing food

New persistent pain
With a Simply Cash Plan or Simply Dental Plan you can claim back money towards the cost of check-ups, treatment and emergencies. Our plans entitle you to claim for as many treatments as you want up to your annual limit. You simply pay a monthly premium and once you've attended your appointment you can claim the money back, by completing a claim form and sending off the receipt. The Simply Dental Plan also includes a one off payment, in the unfortunate event that a person develops mouth cancer. For further information please visit
* In the last ten years, cases have risen from around six cases per 100,000, to eight cases. Cancer Research UK -
** Cancer Research UK -


Notes to editors

-The Simplyhealth Annual Dental Survey 2012 as well as interviews with Michael Thomas, case studies and a spokesperson from Simplyhealth are available upon request

- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 11785 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16 - 23 March 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct. Based around principles of data protection legislation and research ethics, the MRS code has the confidence of the business community, government and regulators

About Simply Health

- We became Simplyhealth in 2009 after bringing together HSA, BCWA, LHF, HealthSure, Totally Active, our   family of health companies have joined together over the last ten years to form Simplyhealth

- We've been providing healthcare solutions for 140 years, dedicated to serving our customers and patients through a variety of cash plans, dental plans, private medical insurance, self funded health plans and mobility and living aids 

- Simplyhealth is a trading name of Simplyhealth Access, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority Simplyhealth as it stands today, now covers nearly four million people with health plans (more than any other company) and helps 20,000 companies with their employees' health

- Simplyhealth is committed to making a positive impact on its communities. Each year, we donate over £1 million to  health related charities and causes


The information contained in these articles is intended to be for general interest, and should not be relied upon for specific conditions or complaints. You should always consult your GP or other healthcare practitioner for specific advice. The information provided is not the opinion of Simplyhealth and has been sourced through a third party.