As the year draws to a close, November provides a poignant reminder to all of us to take good care of our oral health and be aware of any changes in our mouths. Mouth Cancer Action Month is an important initiative that takes place every November and is greatly supported by the team here at Malmin, as it helps us to raise awareness of dental health and give you the information you need to detect the early stages of mouth cancer – as we know that early detection really does save lives.
WHAT IS MOUTH CANCER?
Mouth cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tongue, lips, cheeks and throat. It can occur in anyone, and whilst it is more common in those over the age of 40, particularly men, we are now reading that increasing numbers of younger people are being diagnosed.
It is a sad fact that more than 1800 people in the UK die each year from mouth cancer, but what is even more distressing is that many of these deaths could be prevented through early detection.
So, let’s explore the risk factors and explain what you need to look out for so that together we can help detect and prevent mouth cancer.
ARE YOU AT RISK?
Those who use tobacco or drink alcohol have a greater risk of developing mouth cancer, particularly when they are consumed together. However, the lips can also be affected if they are over exposed to sunlight, so sun-worshippers need to be particularly aware of changes to the lips and ensure they use adequate sun protection.
More recently, mouth cancer has also been linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), with many experts suggesting that it could soon overtake alcohol and tobacco as the main cause of this type of cancer. Practising safe oral sex and limiting the number of partners you have is the advice offered by the Oral Health Foundation to reduce your risk of contracting HPV.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
As with any type of cancer, the symptoms can vary from person to person, however the main things you need to look out for are changes in your mouth, tongue and lips. If you spot any of the following signs and they do not heal within three weeks, you should speak to your dentist:
- Mouth ulcers
- White or red patch in the mouth
- Unusual lumps, bumps or swelling
At Malmin Dental ALL of our dental check-ups include a free mouth cancer screening so we check for signs and symptoms at every check up appointment. When was your last dental check up? We advise you to visit the dentist every six months. It could save your life. Be more Mouth Aware.