Mouth cancer is the deadliest oral disease. Despite advances in surgical and radiotherapy treatment, half of the patients die within five years of diagnosis. Even following initial successful treatment, prognosis is compromised by the late presentation of advanced tumours and widespread multi-focal cancer disease throughout the mouth.
To mark the 2019 World Oral Health Day on March 20, Wednesday, researchers at the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Unit, Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) shares the latest trend and figures of mouth cancer to raise public awareness and knowledge of this lethal disease.
Professor Peter Thomson, Clinical Professor in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery HKU Faculty of Dentistry said: “In the 21st Century, the incidence of mouth cancer is reaching epidemic proportions with 300,000 new cases detected globally every year, including 40,000 in China alone. Statistics from the Hong Kong Cancer Registry showed a rising trend of mouth cancer in Hong Kong with a 70% increase from 394 cases in 1996 to nearly 700 cases in 2016.” (Figure 1)
Principally a squamous carcinoma arising from the mucosal lining of the oral cavity, most tumours in the mouth pass through a stage of ‘pre-cancer’ which can be identified during standard oral examination by dentists. This offers important opportunities for intervention and curative treatment, while the transformation of normal mouth lining into cancer is poorly understood.
However, according to the 2014 data source of Census and Statistics Department, less than half of Hong Kong people had dental check-ups regularly. Fewer than 37% of those in the high risk group aged 45 or above visited their dentists regularly. (Figure 2).
“Mouth cancer patients are often diagnosed only when the disease is advanced and incurable,” Professor Thomson added. He said early suspicious signs of cancer or pre-cancer change include non-healing mouth ulcers, red and white mucosal patches and unexplained swellings within the mouth or in the neck, which can be easily detected by a dental professional.
The strategies that prevention really is better than cure when it comes to halting the progress of this life-threatening oral disorder are confirmed in Professor Thomson’s new book “Oral Cancer – From Prevention to Intervention “.
The HKU Oral Oncology Research Group led by Professor Thomson will continue to work to improve understanding of the cause and development of mouth cancer, to identify the population in Hong Kong most at risk, and to apply effective primary, secondary and tertiary preventive strategies to target disease at the earliest possible stage, and to facilitate minimal interventional treatment.
Research team members
Professor Peter Thomson, Clinical Professor in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, HKU Faculty of Dentistry
Professor Peter Thomson is the Clinical Professor and Head of the Discipline of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Hong Kong. A UK and Australian specialist in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Oral Medicine, Professor Thomson has researched extensively into the prevention and early diagnosis of mouth cancer, and pioneered interventional management techniques to treat potentially malignant ‘pre-cancer’ disease. He has published and presented over 250 research papers in oral cancer and is an internationally recognised authority on the causes and development of oral cancer.
Dr Choi Siu Wai, Research Associate of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, HKU Faculty of Dentistry
Dr Choi Siu Wai is a Research Associate of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Hong Kong. She trained as a biochemist in the UK and specialises in the search for biomarkers which signals early disease and can aid in early diagnosis. She has published over 80 research papers on her research interests of chronic disease and statistics in medicine.
Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong
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Communications and Public Affairs Office, The University of Hong Kong
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香港大學牙醫學院口腔頜面外科臨床教授湯迅教授(Professor Peter Thomson)表示：「在21世紀，口腔癌的發病率正達到流行病的程度，全球每年新增病例約300,000宗，單在中國就有40,000宗。根據香港癌症資料統計中心的數字顯示，本港口腔癌病患者數目正不斷上升，由1996年394人確診至2016年增至接近700人，增幅高達70%。(圖一)
湯迅教授在其出版的新書 “Oral Cancer – From Prevention to Intervention” 中指出，預防確實比治療是對付口腔癌更有效和重要的策略。
湯迅教授Peter Thomson 是香港大學牙醫學院口腔及頜面外科臨床教授兼口腔及頜面外科主管。湯迅教授是英國和澳洲口腔及頜面外科和口腔內科專家，他對口腔癌的預防和早期診斷進行了廣泛的研究，並率先採用干預治療技術來醫治潛在的惡性“癌症前期”疾病。 他發表了超過250篇口腔癌研究論文，是國際公認在口腔癌病因和發展上的權威。