Get mouth aware this November
Each year an overwhelming amount of people are diagnosed with a form of oral cancer, with many of these cases being terminal due to the late stage of which the cancer is found.
Since the late 1970s, oral cancer incidence rates have increased by 92% in Great Britain, with 2,398 people dying from the disease in 2014. Being aware of the disease, and what puts you more at risk of developing it can significantly reduce a person’s chance of getting oral cancer, and help them detect it earlier to increase chances of survival.
Mouth Cancer Action Month is a charity campaign which aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer, contributing to saving more lives through prevention and early detection. In this blog we will be exploring what mouth cancer is, what puts you more at risk of developing it and how to pick up on warning signs.
What Is Mouth Cancer?
Mouth cancer, commonly known as oral cancer, is where a tumour can affect any part of the mouth including the surface of the tongue, cheeks, teeth, the roof and floor of the mouth, lips and gums. Tumours can also develop in the glands that produce saliva, the tonsils at the back of the mouth, and the part of the throat connecting your mouth to your windpipe. However, these are less common.
Mouth cancer can affect anybody, whether they have their own teeth or not. Although more common in people over 40, it is still possible for younger patients to develop the disease. The rise in oral cancer is devastating considering that on average, 91% of oral cancer cases can be prevented.
Although anyone can be affected by oral cancer, lifestyle can greatly impact the likelihood of being developing the disease. Gaining an understanding of what these risk increasing habits are, and actively working to reduce or cut them out of your life will help cut the chances of developing mouth cancer.
It’s widely known that smoking can greatly diminish your health, although the risk of mouth cancer is often overlooked. The majority of oral cancer cases have been linked to smoking and tobacco use. Smoking makes your mouth immediately host to harmful chemicals in cigarettes, which damage cells in the mouth and have the potential to make them cancerous.
The second main cause of mouth cancer is alcohol. Although it’s fine to enjoy the occasional glass of wine, drinking in excess can severely increase the chances of developing mouth cancer. Moderation is key.
Other things that increase your risk of developing mouth cancer include:
- Chewing or smokeless tobacco
Visit the NHS website for more information on these risk factors.
What Should I Look Out For?
Early detection with mouth cancer is key. The earlier a case is found, the more likely the patient is to survive. The three main signs and symptoms to be aware of are:
- Ulcers which do not heal in three weeks
- Red and white patches in the mouth
- Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is vital you contact your dentist or doctor immediately.
Other symptoms may include:
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing
- Changes in your voice or problems with speech
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bleeding or numbness in the mouth
- Teeth becoming loose, or a tooth socket that doesn’t heal
- Difficulty moving your jaw
- Red or white patches on the lining of your mouth
Regular dental check ups is a vital cancer screening tool. Visiting your dentist gives them the chance to detect any signs of oral cancer in the earliest stages and provide their patients with treatment as soon as possible, reducing the chances of precancerous cells becoming malignant.
Always remember: if in doubt, get double checked. If you’d like to book a check up, or want to talk to us about mouth cancer awareness, please contact us for more information.