It wasn't a gun that killed JR - it was mouth cancer

Date published: 28 November 2012

TV star Larry Hagman’s death from mouth cancer has prompted one charity to remind people about the dangers posed by the disease.

Hagman, best known for his role as JR Ewing in the hit series Dallas, died of tongue cancer on Friday, having been diagnosed with the disease in October last year.

Organised by the British Dental Health Foundation, Mouth Cancer Action Month, taking place throughout November, aims to raise awareness of a disease that has affected high-profile names such as Michael Douglas, radio presenter Danny Baker and former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott.

Tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet, and the human papilloma virus (HPV), often transmitted via oral sex, are all risk factors associated with mouth cancer. Looking for ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth is a potentially life-saving practice everyone can do.

With a third of all Brits unsure of whether they are at risk from the disease, the campaign is an ideal time for more people to find out about the disease. Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, hopes this latest high-profile case will help to spread the message and raise awareness about mouth cancer.

Dr Carter said: “Larry’s passing is a reminder of how deadly mouth cancer can be. Latest figures show more than 6,000 cases have been diagnosed in the UK. Without early detection, half of those will die.

“Although Larry was 81, the demographic of the disease is changing. Cases of young people developing the disease are on the rise, so it is really important everyone knows the risks and is aware of what they should be looking for. Our advice to everyone is simple. If in doubt, get checked out.”

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