RUGBY, England, November 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Dental experts called for more research into mouth cancer this morning (Thursday) as it was revealed that while the number of people killed by cancer has fallen by 15% in the last 30 years, there has been no reduction in the number of mouth cancer deaths.

Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya, Chair in Oral Medicine & Experimental Oral Pathology at London's King's College, addressed an audience of politicians, mouth cancer sufferers and leading dental figures at the official launch of the Mouth Cancer Awareness campaign at the House of Commons.

The shocking fact was unveiled as the British Dental Health Foundation announced that the results of the National Dental Survey 2007 showed a 'dangerous lack of awareness of mouth cancer' in the UK - with one in four people never having heard of the condition and even fewer able to identify the risk factors.

Professor Warnakulasuriya said: "The failure to improve mouth cancer death rates over the last 30 years reflects the advanced stages patients present with the condition, as well as a lack of clinical trials to find new generation anti-cancer medicines to combat the disease."

"We need research into why people with mouth cancer symptoms such as ulcers that don't heal or red or white patches in the mouth are so slow to visit their dentist."

"We also need to develop innovative ways of genetic screening to develop new treatments. Mortality rates of other cancers have improved as new treatments are introduced but mouth cancer patients are still receiving the same treatment as they did 30 years ago."

"It is clear that much innovation is needed if we are to improve survival rates."

The event also featured a reading by mouth cancer survivor and poet, Bob Crew, who received a standing ovation at the end of his piece Poetry of the Poisoned Mouth, which labelled the condition: 'A biting crab, aggressive, vicious and nasty'.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of campaign co-ordinators the British Dental Health Foundation, commented: "Our survey proves that awareness of this condition is dangerously low."

"The number of mouth cancer cases is increasing every year and more and more young people and women are being affected."

"People need to reduce their risk and that involves giving up smoking, reducing alcohol intake and eating a healthy balanced diet."

Editor's notes

Mouth cancer kills one person every five hours in the UK.

A press pack is available at http:// www.mouthcancer.org

Regional statistics on awareness of mouth cancer are available for Belfast, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Southampton on request.

For further information on this release please contact the Foundation's Press Office: +44(0)870 770-4014 or pr@dentalhealth.org. If your enquiry is urgent please call +44(0)7793-155680.