News archive 2006
King's promotes mouth cancer awareness17 November 2006, PR 150/06
King's College London Dental Institute has played a key role in Mouth Cancer Awareness Week (12–18 November), including a briefing at the House of Commons in which Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya outlined the reasons for the steep rise in the number of cases of oral cancer.
On Monday 13 November, Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya, Head of Oral Medicine at the Dental Institute, highlighted that the rate for oral cancer has been rising by 2.7 per cent each year and there has been a 35 per cent increase since 1990. He blamed these figures on binge drinking and tobacco use (smoking as well as chewing tobacco).
Professor Warnakulasuriya commented, ‘Tobacco use, particularly when combined with heavy alcohol consumption, has been identified as the primary risk factor for approximately 80 per cent of oral cancers. Recent increases in alcohol consumption as well as alarming levels of binge drinking by young people has been attributed to recent rising trends of oral cancer. With known risk factors it should be possible to prevent the disease.'
Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, mouth and oropharynx. In 2003 there were 4660 new cases of oral cancer in the United Kingdom and typically it kills around 1700 people a year. It is often difficult to treat, and despite aggressive combinations of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, cure rates in England have not improved over several decades.
Professor Warnakulasuriya, who is also Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Oral Cancer and leads several international research teams in this area, outlined three priority strategies for oral cancer control: increased public education, improved education for healthcare professionals and a new public health policy to develop a national programme of oral cancer prevention, early detection and control.
‘Since the early 70s there have been many public health campaigns and a lot of media coverage about the early detection of cervical cancer by regular screening and addressing high risk groups through primary care. There has however, been little attention or focus on mouth cancer despite rising trends which were noted 15 years ago. With the right educational and health policy measures we can make a difference in tackling this disease,' Professor Warnakulasuriya added.
On Sunday 19 November the Mouth Cancer Foundation held a giant sponsored 10 km walk in Hyde Park, London, to mark the end of the awareness week. The Department of Community Special Care Dentistry at King's College London Dental Institute collaborated with the Eastman Dental Institute to provide free screening for walkers using a mobile clinical unit.
Dr Liana Zoitopoulos, Head of Community Special Care Dentistry, said, ‘It is essential for the public to be made aware of the importance of dental checks for the screening of mouth cancer. King's College London Dental Institute is delighted to be able to contribute to the Mouth Cancer Foundation's free 10k sponsored walking event.'
For more information about this sponsored walk visit the website at: www.mouthcancerwalk.org
Notes to editorsKing's College London Dental Institute
King's College London Dental Institute at Guy's, King's College and St Thomas' Hospitals is the largest dental academic centre in the UK, with over 750 undergraduate dental students, 100 postgraduate taught students and 50 research students. As well as providing both routine and specialist clinical care, it educates and trains dental personnel at all levels including dental care professionals. The Dental Institute's internationally renowned faculty undertake cutting edge basic, clinical and translational research in collaboration with its associate hospitals. The Dental Institute was awarded the maximum 5* research rating grade in the last research assessment exercise and received the top teaching score of 24/24 in its Teaching Quality Assessment.
King's College London
King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,700 undergraduates and nearly 5,600 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, international relations, medicine, nursing and the sciences, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to four Medical Research Council Centres – more than any other university.
King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £363 million.
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