Mouth Cancer Action Month aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and save thousands of lives through early detection and prevention. Each year over 7,000 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer. It is one of the few cancers still seeing an increase in the number of diagnoses. This is equivalent to 18 people each day being told that they have the disease!
Mouth cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. Mouth cancer can affect anyone but is more prevalent in people over 40, particularly men. Although recent years have seen more diagnoses in younger patients and in women. If mouth cancer is caught early enough there is around a 90% chance of survival, therefore it is incredibly important that you attend for regular dental appointments as your dentist when they examine your mouth, teeth and gums will be able to identify the early stages of mouth cancer.
The main two risk factors for mouth cancer are tobacco use and alcohol consumption. The chemicals present in cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco all enter your body through your mouth. Over time these chemicals can affect the saliva in your mouth, turning cells cancerous. Drinking large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis is also a risk factor. By combining the two you increase your chance of developing mouth cancer by over 30 times!
Recent reports have also linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV can be caught through oral sex and research suggests that is could soon rival smoking and alcohol as one of the main causes of mouth cancer.
What to look out for?
Mouth cancer can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally, as a white or red patch in the mouth or a lump or swelling. It is important if you notice any changes in your mouth that you visit your dentist so that they can perform a thorough assessment. If they notice anything that gives them cause for concern, then they will refer you to the local hospital so that the consultant can perform further tests. Remember early diagnoses is key to getting the best possible outcome.
Top tips for keeping your mouth healthy
- Visit your dentist as often as they recommend for routine check-up appointments
- When brushing your teeth, be sure to look out for any changes in your mouth, any red or white patches or ulcers.
- Be sure to protect yourself in the sunshine by using a good protective sun cream on your face and neck and a barrier cream on your lips.
- A healthy diet, rich in vitamins, helps to protect against the development of many cancers
- Think about quitting smoking.
- Ensure you keep your alcohol consumption within the current guidelines.
If you are concerned about any changes in your mouth, do not hesitate to contact The Essex Smile Centre on 01268 742 333 and book an appointment for a consultation today. If in doubt get it checked out!