A charity is calling for free dental care for mouth cancer patients to combat “discriminatory” costs of ongoing healthcare that survivors are often burdened with.
Following treatment for mouth cancer, patients are faced with a series of long-term oral health issues that often result in complex and expensive dental work, the Oral Health Foundation said.
The charity estimates that mouth cancer sufferers could face dental costs of up to £1,500 over five years – around five times higher than that of the national average.
It has labelled it a “tax on cancer” and believes government should be supporting cancer patients financially in their aftercare.
Dr Chet Trivedy, trustee of the Oral Health Foundation and consultant at Kingston Hospital, said chronic toothache, tooth loss and dry mouth are just some of the common problems that require long-term dental care.
“The financial impact of mouth cancer is often overlooked. As it stands, there is a tax on mouth cancer. This is highly discriminatory and extremely unfair,” he added.
Annual cases of mouth cancer have reached 8,300 in the UK, making it one of the fastest-increasing cancers.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the charity, pointed out that cost remains a significant barrier for why people continue to avoid regular dental visits.
“These are crucial for frequent mouth cancer examination and for diagnosing cancer as early as possible,” he said.