Here at Kennett Road Dental Practice, we’re supporting mouth cancer action month, but you can be vigilant all year round by keeping an eye out for signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.
So, what is mouth cancer? According to the NHS “mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is where a tumour develops in a part of the mouth. It may be on the surface of the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth (palate), the lips or gums.”
If you haven’t heard much about oral cancer, you’re not alone, but according to the Oral Health Foundation, Mouth cancer currently kills more per year than cervical and testicular cancer combined. So, it really is important.
Because early diagnosis is so critical, we want you to be aware of the signs of oral cancer. Dentalhealth.org suggests that “with early diagnosis, the chances of surviving mouth cancer are nine out of ten. So, it is vital that you know what to look out for.
- Ulcers which do not heal within three weeks
- Lumps or swellings in the mouth, neck, or head area
- Red and white patches in the mouth
- unexplained loose teeth or sockets that do not heal after extractions
- unexplained, persistent numbness or an odd feeling on the lip or tongue
These are the symptoms of mouth cancer you can look out for yourselves. If you notice any of these signs, then make an appointment with your dentist or doctor today. One of the most important things you can do to minimise your risk of late diagnosis is to attend regular appointments with your dentist who is trained to detect signs of oral cancer. Early detection is key so it’s essential to see your dentist frequently and especially if you notice any changes in your mouth.
Another thing you could do is to spend two minutes watching this video on how to carry out a self-assessment for mouth cancer on yourself at home. We’re all busy but taking two minutes out of your day seems to be a low price to pay for your wellbeing and peace of mind. Although this is no substitute for professional medical care, it can help you spot any signs early on.
“If in doubt, get checked out” is the catchy slogan from the Oral Health Foundation and it’s a good job it is catchy because even though cases of mouth cancer are rising rapidly compared with ten years ago, general knowledge about oral cancer is dangerously low. The State of Mouth Cancer report indicates that cases of oral cancer have risen in the last ten years by 49% and 135% in the last two decades.
Another worrying statistic is that although 88% of the British public have heard of mouth cancer, 75% do not know what the main signs and symptoms are. Visit the mouth cancer action month page to find out how you can help raise awareness.
Although there is no way to absolutely prevent oral cancer, there are many lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of developing it. The NHS advises that “the leading causes of mouth cancer in the UK are tobacco and alcohol.” If you drink more than is recommended or smoke at all, then you are increasing your risk of mouth cancer. The Oral Health Foundation writes that “up to 90% of all mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors”, and that smoking can increase your risk by up to ten times.
If you smoke and want help quitting, then click here for advice and help from the National Health Service. There may never be a good time to quit, but there is a right time and it’s now.
Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing mouth cancer include:
- chewing tobacco or other smokeless tobacco products
- chewing betel nuts with or without added tobacco
- an unhealthy diet
- the human papillomavirus (HPV)
With oral cancer cases rising, it’s never too late to change your lifestyle for the better and for the benefit of your loved ones.
So, be vigilant in checking for changes in your mouth, decrease your risk factors if you can and ensure you make and attend regular appointments with your dentist. Be mouth cancer aware and share your knowledge to help others.
Don’t forget: “If in doubt get checked out”. Throughout November, the Kennett Dental team are offering free mouth cancer checks, so get in touch today to book your appointment!