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Mouth Cancer Action Month 2018 – November

Mouth cancer is, as its name suggests, a serious condition that is sadly on the increase at a significant rate (31% over the last ten years). As with most cancers, the earlier it is caught, the better – 9 cases in 10 are successfully treated.

As a practice, we encourage everybody to be ‘mouthaware’ and to pay more attention to what’s going on inside their mouth. We carry out a series of checks as part of our routine examinations, so it’s important not to miss appointments – but things can change between check ups too.

‘If in doubt, get checked out’.

If you notice anything different in your mouth, it is essential that you come to see us immediately. Not only does this give any potential treatment the best outcome, if there’s nothing to worry about, it’s good to know that too!

Ms Michayla Morris, one of our Dental Hygienists, wrote an article for The Probe—a respected dental publication—on mouth cancer a little while ago and is particularly interested in this subject. All our other team members have been trained on the subject and are willing to speak with you about any concerns you might have.

We will never think that you are wasting our time by asking us to check something, so please do speak to us.

What to look out for

As mouth cancer can strike in a number of places, including the lips, tongue, gums and cheeks, it’s important to know what to look out for.

Three signs and symptoms not to ignore are:

  • Mouth ulcers which do not heal in three weeks
  • Red and white patches in the mouth
  • Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area

What are the biggest causes of mouth cancer and what can I do?

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco (cut down on, or preferably seek help to stop smoking)
  • Alcohol (drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week – men & women)
  • Betel nut chewing (reduce consumption, which is linked to other medical issues such as hypertension and asthma)
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – the single biggest cause of the increase over the last 20 years (engage in safer sexual practices and/or become vaccinated)
  • Diet/nutrition (eat more fresh fruit and vegetables)
  • Family History of mouth cancer – self-examine and regular check ups

If you would like to find out more, we recommend reading the Mouth Cancer fact sheet that is available from this link: dentalhealth.org