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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week raising awareness of HPV risks

As well as causing cervical cancer, HPV is one of the main three causes of mouth and throat cancers.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week aims to make cervical cancer a thing of the past by encouraging the public to attend cervical screening, get treated for cell changes and receive the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.

Oral cancer is more commonly seen in men and is currently one of the fastest rising types of cancer, killing more people than car accidents in the UK. 8,846 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2021, an increase of 34% in the last decade. It is also one of the most preventable cancers with around 90% of all oral cancer cases being avoidable.

As the only health professionals who regularly see healthy patients, dentists play a vital role in early detection by spotting the symptoms of oral cancer. In conjunction with Cancer Research UK, our oral cancer toolkit can help practitioners identify signs of oral cancers early.

HPV is a very common infection which is estimated to be responsible for 5% of all cancers, it is the leading cause of cancers of the reproductive organs and oropharynx. In some cases, HPV can also lead to a rare respiratory condition, affecting the vocal cords.

We are working to raise awareness of HPV related cancers, especially in deprived areas where the risk of being diagnosed is even greater. In the UK boys and girls aged 12-13 years are eligible for the HPV vaccination, which helps protect against cancers caused by HPV.

A recent report by the Oral Health Foundation found that nine in ten adults in the UK have heard of mouth cancer but awareness of the major risk factors is as low as 9%. It is vital to have open conversations with your patients about the signs, symptoms and risk factors for developing oral cancer.