How much do you know about mouth cancer?

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month; a charity initiative aiming to raise awareness of the disease and ultimately save lives.  Held every year, it is a cause close to dentists’ hearts as we see first hand the damage that this disease can do, and there has never been a better time to talk about mouth cancer, because sadly, there has been a sharp rise in cases over the last ten years.

According to the recently published State of Mouth Cancer Report1, nearly 8,300 people are being diagnosed with mouth cancer every year, a rise of 49% compared with a decade ago.  What’s more alarming is that 45% of British adults don’t understand anything about mouth cancer, with three quarters admitting they don’t know what the symptoms are.

If you think you might be among them, now is the perfect opportunity to spend a few minutes reading to the end of this blog, so that you can be more aware of the signs and symptoms. 

Early detection saves lives, it’s as simple as that. 

How can JDRM help?

Here at JDRM we take your oral health really seriously, which is why our dental check-ups also include screening for mouth cancer.  By simply attending your check-ups on a regular basis, whether this is every six months or as advised by your dentist, you are doing your bit to halt mouth cancer in its tracks.  But why stop there?  We’d encourage you to be more vigilant, and as part of your day to day teeth cleaning regime, take a little time to understand the state of your mouth.  If you spot something you are not sure about, or you have pain or discomfort that won’t go away, speak to us about it.

Signs and symptoms of mouth cancer

Here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Mouth ulcers that don’t heal or are present for 3 weeks or more
  • Lumps or swelling in your mouth, head or neck
  • Red or white patches in your mouth

Mouth cancer risk factors

Some people will also be at a higher risk of developing mouth cancer, so if your lifestyle choices fall into one or more of these categories, then you’ll need to be extra vigilant:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol to excess
  • Chewing tobacco or betel quid
  • Having a diet low in fruit and vegetables
  • Being at risk of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - the virus can cause changes in the mouth and throat making them more likely to become cancerous in the future

Men are known to be at a higher risk than women and if you have previously had mouth cancer, or have a family history of it, then you may also be at a greater risk of developing the disease.

How you can help reduce your risk

By making better lifestyle choices, being more aware of any changes in your mouth, and visiting your dentist regularly, you can reduce your risk of getting mouth cancer and ensure early diagnosis – which we know gives a far greater chance of survival.

Reading this blog probably took you five minutes, and yet it could save you years.  Help us to help you be more #Mouthaware and reduce the risk of mouth cancer by sharing this blog post with your family and friends.

Don’t forget to stay up to date with your dental check-ups and speak to us if you are concerned about any changes in your mouth.  Please click here to find and contact your local JDRM practice.

Sources:

1 - www.dentalhealth.org/stateofmouthcancer

Next article Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a New Dental Patient at JDRM Dental Care
Are you entitled to free NHS care?