Mouth Cancer Action Month

Mouth Cancer Action Month

03 Nov Mouth Cancer Action Month

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, a charity campaign which aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and make a difference by saving thousands of lives through early detection and prevention.

We have a responsibility as dentists to help ensure oral cancers are detected early, and our patients know about the risk factors.

What is mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is where a tumour develops in, the lining of the mouth. It can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat.

Anyone can get mouth cancer, whether they have their natural teeth or not. It’s more common in people over the age of 40, particularly men, but younger people can also be affected.

Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to smoking/chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol. Recent reports have also related the human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer, to cases of mouth cancer.

What are the signs of mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer can appear in different forms. The most common symptoms of mouth cancer are:

  • Ulcers lasting more than three weeks
  • A lump in the mouth or on the lip
  • A lump in the neck
  • Red or red and white patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained, persistent numbness or an odd feeling on the lip or tongue

You should see your dentist or GP if you have any of these symptoms for three weeks, particularly if you drink or smoke heavily.

How can your dentist help detect mouth cancer?

Early detection of mouth cancer is critical for a positive outcome. It can be difficult to spot by yourself and often by the time patients are aware of the symptoms the cancer is significantly advanced.

Dentists can often identify cancer in its early stages. During a routine dental or denture check-up, we will use a small mirror to examine the inside of your mouth and your tongue. We will check all areas of your mouth including those that can be difficult to see yourself.

If we find something unusual, we will immediately refer you to a consultant who will carry out a thorough examination and advise on treatment.

We check all our patients for early signs of mouth cancer during their dental or denture check-up.

If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are high.

How can you help prevent mouth cancer?

The four most effective ways of preventing mouth cancer developing, or preventing it coming back after successful treatment, are:

  1. Not smoking.
  2. Sticking to the recommended weekly limits for alcohol.
  3. Eating a healthy diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.
  4. Having regular dental check-ups, even if you wear dentures.

 

Even if you have no teeth and are a denture wearer you still need to have your mouth checked. Denture wearers can be more prone to ulcers that can turn nasty.

If you’re concerned about anything unusual in your mouth or haven’t had a dental check-up in a while, please give us a call on 01395 225600 to arrange an appointment.

For more information, please visit the Mouth Cancer Action Month website.