03 Nov Mouth Cancer Awareness Month
November is Mouth Cancer Awareness Month, which was set up by the Dental Health Foundation to raise the profile and knowledge of this disease.
Rates of mouth cancer are increasing, and the number of cases are set to rise in the next few years, unlike most other forms of cancer. More than 7000 people were diagnosed in Britain last year, which is a rise of one third in the last decade. Over 2000 people in Britain died of mouth cancer last year which is more than the number of people who were killed in road traffic accidents.
What causes mouth cancer?
Anybody can be affected by mouth cancer although certain factors do increase the risk. These risk factors include smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol to excess, a poor diet and the HPV virus spread through oral sex. The number of cases among young people has also risen which is a very important reason to raise awareness. The good news is that treatment of mouth cancer is successful when it is picked up and treated early.
At Stafford Street Dental Care we look out for oral cancer at every single dental examination. We check the jaw and glands, then we examine the lips, gums, cheek surfaces, tongue, and under the tongue. Sometimes we don’t say much about why we are doing this- no-one likes to think of cancer or talk about it- but you can be reassured that checking these areas is a big part of our preventive strategy. We have also been telling young people what the signs of cancer are, so that even if one of their friends has any of these symptoms, they can be recognised, and action taken as soon as possible.
So what are the symptoms?
- A mouth ulcer that doesn’t heal within three weeks
- Red or white patches in the mouth or throat
- Unusual lumps or swellings
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Teeth that become loose for no obvious reason
- Bleeding or numbness within the mouth
- Changes in the voice
- Of course these symptoms can have other causes but the important thing is not to leave them unchecked.
What can you do to prevent mouth cancer?
Here are some steps you can take to keep your mouth and body healthy, and so reduce the risk of mouth cancer:
- Take good care of your teeth and gums every day, and follow the advice of your dental team.
- Attend regular appointments and let your dental team know about any changes in your mouth.
- Cutting down on smoking and drinking, or giving them up completely will substantially lower your risk of mouth cancer. Smoking and drinking together substantially increases the risk of mouth cancer.
- Wear a high factor sun cream and use a sun-protecting balm on your lips.
- A diet rich in Vitamins A, C and E along with plenty of fruit and vegetables can also provide protection against the risk of mouth cancer.
- Being exposed to the human papilloma virus (HPV) may increase the risk of mouth cancer.
Mouth cancer is a scary disease which needs to be better understood and we want to see it beaten.
If you have any concerns just call, email or message through our Facebook page to arrange an appointment.