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Mouth cancer facts – highlighted by Evesham Dental Health Team

by Dental Design, on 14th December 2021 | Comments Off on Mouth cancer facts – highlighted by Evesham Dental Health Team

Last Updated on 14th December 2021

November was Mouth Cancer Action Month, a charity event that’s very close to our hearts at Evesham Dental Health Team, and we raise awareness throughout the year.

Our Evesham dentists are pro-active in checking every single one of our patients for mouth cancer at every dental and hygiene consultation. We also offer FREE oral cancer health screenings for the wider community, who are welcome to contact us to book. This is something that’s available throughout the year too, not just during Mouth Cancer Action Month!

The Oral Health Foundation, organisers of Mouth Cancer Action Month, have released an updated fact sheet about mouth cancer, which includes information about the risks and signs, explains who is most likely to be affected and what we can all do to help avoid it.

If you have any concerns about mouth cancer, please call us on 01386 422 833 or email us at [email protected] immediately and we will do all we can to help.

What is mouth cancer?

Most people have heard of cancer affecting parts of the body such as the lungs or breasts. However, cancer can appear in the mouth, where the disease can affect the soft tissues – lips, tongue, cheeks and throat, or jawbone.

Who can be affected by 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.

There are more than 640,000 cases of mouth cancer diagnosed each year worldwide and it is the eleventh most common cancer.

In some countries such as India, there is an increased risk because of problems such as tobacco chewing. There are, on average, almost 7,800 new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed in the UK each year. The number of new cases of mouth cancer is on the increase, and in the UK has increased by over 50% in the last decade alone.

Do people die from mouth cancer?

Yes. More than 2,300 people in the UK die from mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was diagnosed early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.

What can cause mouth 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 many parts of the world. However, the traditional habits in some cultures of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly dangerous.

Alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are taken together the risk is even greater.

Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.

Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body.

HPV can be spread through oral sex, and research now suggests that HPV could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer.

Practising safe sex and limiting the number of partners you have may help reduce your chances of getting HPV. Many people get HPV during their lives and for many this does not cause a problem.

There are now HPV vaccines for both girls and boys. They were developed to fight cervical cancer, but it is likely that they will also help to reduce the rates of mouth cancer. These vaccines are given at age 12 to 13 years.

What are the signs of mouth cancer?

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. Be aware of any unusual lumps in your mouth or jaw area and any persistent hoarseness. It is important to visit a dental team or your doctor if these areas do not heal within three weeks. If you aren’t sure, go for a check-up anyway.

How can mouth cancer be detected early?

Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by your dental team during a thorough mouth examination. If mouth cancer is diagnosed early, then the chances of a cure are good. Many people with mouth cancer go to their dentist or doctor too late.

What is involved in a full check-up of the mouth?

The inside of your mouth and your tongue will be examined with the help of a small mirror. The examination will also look at your neck and underneath your jaw. Our Evesham dentists will carry out this examination as part of a routine dental health examination. Remember, we can see parts of your mouth that you cannot see easily yourself.

What happens if my dentist finds a problem?

If we find something unusual, we will refer you to a consultant at the hospital, who will carry out a thorough examination of your mouth and throat. A small sample of the cells may be gathered from the area (a biopsy), and these cells will be examined under the microscope to see what is wrong.

What happens next?

If the cells are cancerous, more tests will be carried out. These may include overall health checks, blood tests, x-rays or scans. These tests will decide what course of treatment is needed.

Can mouth cancer be cured?

If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are good, and the smaller the area or ulcer the better the chance of a cure. However, too many people come forward too late because they do not have regular mouth examinations.

Visit your dental team regularly, as often as recommended.

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