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Mar 2022
14th
 

A Simple Check For Mouth Cancer Could Save Your Life

Mouth cancer is on the rise in the UK with over 2,700 people dying from the disease last year. This is an increase of almost 50% compared to 10 years ago which is a huge increase. One of the main issues is that over 45% of all mouth cancers are diagnosed in the late stages which means that the survival rate is much lower than early diagnosis. Not only this, but treatment is often far less invasive when caught early on leading to a far higher quality of life. During each dental examination at Progressive Dentistry, we undertake a thorough analysis of mouth cancer but with check ups usually every 6 months, we are encouraging our patients to check their mouth once a month for signs of the dreadful disease.

Self Checking For Mouth Cancer

A simple self check for mouth cancer should take just 30-45 seconds.

There are 3 essential self check signs to look for:

1. Ulcers that do not heal within 3 weeks
2. Red or white patches ( both together is often a tell tale sign)
3. Lumps or swellings

Start by looking in the mirror (obvious, we know!) and stick your tongue out. Then move the tongue left and right and then up in the air looking at the floor of the mouth as well. Next, stretch your cheeks out with your fingers and check the gum line. Try to look at the cheek surfaces and the palate. Here's a simple tip for a self check- always use a well lit room or be close to natural daylight. If you see anything unusual, such as in the image below, please call your dentist or contact us for advise. We posted a more in depth article here

Mouth cancer

Image courtesy of British and Irish Society of Oral Medicine

Mouth Cancer Symptoms

As with many serious diseases, there may be little or no mouth cancer symptoms in the early stages. However, certain signs to look for are persistent hoarseness or sore throat, numbness or tingling on the lip or tongue, painful non healing ulcers and tightness on the tongue on movements or eating.

Other mouth cancer symptoms to look out for:

a. Difficulty swallowing

b. Sudden speech problems

c. Weight loss

d. Bad breath

e. Lump or thickening of your lip

f. Lump in your mouth or throat

g. Unusual bleeding or numbness in your mouth

h. Loose teeth for no clear reason

i. Difficulty moving your jaw

j. Sore throat that does not get better after a few days

k. Pain in your ear that does not get better in a few days

How Do You Get Mouth Cancer?

Most of all mouth cancer cases are linked to 3 lifestyle factors:

1. Smoking

Smoking tobacco increases your risk by up to 10 times which is a very telling statistic. We also should make a note of smokeless tobacco such as betel nut chewing popular in South Asian communities. This can increase risk by upto 7 times.

2. Alcohol

Cases of mouth cancer are nearly 3 times higher in those who drink alcohol regularly. Those who drink between 10-42 units of alcohol per month could potentially be increasing their risk by upto 81%.

3. HPV- human papilloma virus (HPV)

Human papilloma virus (HPV) spreads through close skin-to-skin contact, usually during sexual activity including oral sex. Having more sexual partners, of any gender, increases your chances of having HPV. But in most people it does not cause any problems. For some, the virus any cause changes in the mouth leading to cancer in the future.

In the UK, vaccines are offered to at school to children in Year 8 which could save millions from getting cancer later in life. Practising safe sex and reducing the number of sexual partners could also help limit the risk of spread.

Mouth Cancer Awareness

Being more aware of mouth cancer as a population will help to reduce the cases and number of deaths long term. For further information, please visit https://www.dentalhealth.org/

It is vital that regular dental examinations are carried out and we would advise one every 6 months. After all, a simple check up could save your life. If it has been over 6 months since your last visit, please book online or contact us.

High Res IMGL6053

Dr Nissit Patel discussing a Panoral x ray with his patient. Early detection is crucial in the fight against Mouth Cancer

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