November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, and as well as checking your dental health when you come to visit us at Will Murphy Dentistry, we also check for signs of mouth cancer.
Beating mouth cancer is so dependent on diagnosing it at an early stage. If it is caught early, the chances of surviving mouth cancer are nine out of ten – those odds are pretty good, and that’s why early detection is so important. Mouth Cancer Action Month promotes the message ‘If in doubt, get checked out’. We encourage everybody to be ‘mouthaware’ and pay more attention to what’s going on inside the mouth. Most importantly, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is essential that you tell us or your doctor immediately.
So what are the signs of mouth cancer?*
- Sore mouth ulcers that don’t heal within several weeks
- Unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth that don’t go away
- Unexplained, persistent lumps in the neck that don’t go away.
- Unexplained looseness of teeth, or sockets that don’t heal after extractions
- Unexplained, persistent numbness or an odd feeling on the lip or tongue
- Sometimes, white or red patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue – these can be early signs of cancer, so they should also be investigated
- Changes in speech, such as a lisp
What are the risk factors for mouth cancer?
- The leading causes of mouth cancer in the UK are tobacco and alcohol.
- Both tobacco and alcohol are carcinogenic, which means they contain chemicals that can damage the DNA in cells and lead cancer.
- The risk of mouth cancer increases significantly in people who smoke and drink heavily.
- Some people also chew tobacco or other substances that are carcinogenic.
- There’s evidence that a poor diet may increase your risk of developing some types of mouth cancer.
So what can you do?
- Having a healthy balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables is thought to reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer.
- By visiting us very regularly we can catch things early, it’s so important not to skip your dental appointments or not to have bi annual checkups, as a dentist we can catch things sometimes even before you feel anything, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the results in the end.