In the UK, more than 7,800 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, says Southampton dentist Grethe Louw, the principal dentist at Oakwood Dental Practice in Botley High Street.
The number of people being diagnosed with mouth cancer has grown by around a third in the last decade and it remains one of very few cancers that are predicted to increase further in the coming years.
Although there are risk factors heavily linked to the disease, mouth cancer can affect anyone – that’s why it’s so important that we all know what to look out for.
- Don’t leave a mouth ulcer unattended for more than three weeks.
- Don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swellings or red and white patches in your mouth.
- Early detection could save your life. If you notice any changes in your mouth speak to a dentist or doctor immediately.
Mouth Cancer Action Month is a charity campaign that takes place in November. It aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and make a difference by saving thousands of lives through early detection and prevention.
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.
Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men, whether they have their own teeth or not. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women.
Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol. 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 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 it could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer.
If in doubt, get checked out. The dentists and hygienists at our Botley dental practice screen patients at every dental health examination for signs of mouth cancer. Please get in touch to find out more.