Oral cancer rates increased by a quarter in the last decade, driven partly by oral sex, new figures suggest.

The number of cases rose to 6,200 last year, up from 4,400 in 2001. Two-thirds of the cases are in men. The charity Cancer Research UK attributed the rise in part to the spread of human papilloma virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted.

Oral cancer has traditionally been seen in older patients who are heavy smokers and drinkers. But smoking rates have halved in Britain in the last 30 years and younger patients have been turning up in clinics who do not smoke but show evidence of HPV infection in the mouth.