Do you know the signs and the action to take?
Mouth Cancer Action Mouth is a month dedicated to raising awareness of mouth cancer. It hopes that raising awareness of the causes and symptoms of the disease will help lead to earlier detection and a more positive outcome in the future for those with mouth cancer.
Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women. In the last year more than 7,000 have been diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK – an increase of more than a third compared to a decade ago.
Sadly, more than 1,800 people in the UK lose their life to mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was caught early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.
Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are the main forms of tobacco use in the UK.
Alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is even greater.
Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.
What should you be looking out for?
Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips.
Mouth cancer can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer, as can any unusual lumps or swellings.
Be mouth aware and look for changes in the mouth.
It is important to visit your dentist if these areas do not heal within three weeks.
What can you do?
It is important to visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, even if you wear dentures. This is especially important if you smoke and drink alcohol.
When brushing your teeth, look out for any changes in your mouth, and report any red or white patches, or ulcers, that have not cleared up within three weeks.
When exposed to the sun, be sure to use a good protective sun cream, and put the correct type of barrier cream on your lips.
A good diet, rich in vitamins A, C and E, provides protection against the development of mouth cancer. Plenty of fruit and vegetables help the body to protect itself, in general, from most cancers.
Cut down on your smoking and drinking.
If you at all concerned about your smile or changes in your mouth please contact the practice or your GP and book an appointment to discuss your on earns at the earliest opportunity!