Thanks to awareness-building advertising campaigns over the years, many of us now feel sufficiently informed to know about the warning signs of cancer in different parts of the body.
From checking for lumps and bumps, to persistent headaches and changes with moles and freckles, cancers such as breast, prostate, testicular, brain and skin are well known, and there is a reasonably good awareness of how to perform ‘bodily MOTs’ – checking for changes that could signal a problem.
But we are as clued in when it comes to mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer is one of the lesser known cancers, although according to Cancer Research UK, the incidence of mouth cancer in the UK is on the increase. “Oral cancer incidence rates are projected to rise by 33% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 20 cases per 100,000 people by 2035.”
What this means in real terms is that the number of people each year in the UK who are diagnosed with oral cancer is now in excess of 7,500.
Although it is becoming more prevalent, it is believed that the vast majority of mouth cancers are linked with lifestyle choices. What this means is that with greater opportunities to educate people about the causes of mouth cancer, there are things that people can be doing on a day to day basis that can help reduce their risk.
How to mitigate your risk of developing mouth cancer
Here at CK Dental we always advocate oral hygiene and good oral health, and this is the first important starting point. A regular brushing routine and a good awareness of the state of your teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums is essential in being able to spot if anything looks or feels different.
There is a proven link between excessive alcohol consumption and mouth cancer, so ensuring you are keeping alcohol intake with the recommended weekly units is a good starting point to ensure that you’re not putting your mouth at risk. There is also an increased risk for smokers, as tobacco usage has also been linked with higher incidences of mouth cancer – in fact three quarters of those diagnosed with mouth cancer are reportedly smokers.
Signs to look out for
Mouth cancer can start out as a mouth ulcer that does not cause discomfort or irritation, but that fails to heal. It is also important to keep tabs on any red or white patches that form within the mouth and that do not seem to be healing or clearing up. The same is true for any unexpected lumps, bumps or rough areas within the mouth.
As with many cancers, the sooner it is detected, the greater the chance that it can be treated effectively, so if you have any areas of concern within (or around) your mouth, book an appointment to come and see a dentist for an expert assessment as soon as you can.
At CK Dental, our routine exams always include an examination of the teeth, gums and tissues of the mouth for any signs of a serious health condition that needs further examination.
To arrange an appointment at our Bristol dental clinic, call us on 0117 906 4868.