December 5 to 11 is Oral Cancer Awareness Week, the ministry of health has announced.

According to the ministry’s press release, in Cyprus, over the last 20 years up to 2019, a total of 820 cases of oral cancers have been recorded, while in the last five years, 60-65 new cases were diagnosed annually.

Worldwide in 2020, 377,713 cases were diagnosed, including 177,757 deaths and cancer of the mouth, oropharynx, tonsils and salivary glands is the eighth most common cancer.

It is noted that the risk of oral cancer increases after the age of 40 with men being twice as likely to be affected as women. The main predisposing factor is smoking and alcohol consumption, while HPV virus and solar radiation are primarily implicated in lip cancer.

Oral cancer appears as a white or red blotch, as a sore, or as a tumour, most commonly on the tongue and floor of the mouth. Self-examination should be done by everyone once a month and through regular visits to the dentist, every six months, the ministry announcement recommends.

Data from the World Health Organisation shows that adoption of prevention strategies, reduces new cancer cases by 30 per cent, and, if detected at an early stage, the five-year survival rate increases from 50 per cent to 80 per cent.

As part of the disease prevention campaign, this upcoming Friday, free examinations will be offered to the public through mobile dental units outside the Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos hospitals. During the week, the public will also be offered free examinations by private dentists, by appointment.

The state campaign is supported by the School of Dentistry of the European University of Cyprus.