Mouth Cancer is the UK’s fastest growing cancer. Are you aware of the risks and symptoms of the cancer? Don’t bury your head in the sand and ignore any unusual signs in and around your mouth.
Latest figures show more than 6,500 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer – that’s 18 people every day. It is one of the few cancer variations on the rise – cases have increased by almost 50 per cent over the last decade – and it still claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined.
The British Dental Foundation estimates that over the next decade 60,000 people will be diagnosed with Mouth Cancer and that without early detection an estimated 30,000 will die.
Mouth cancer can start anywhere in your mouth, including lips, tongue, gums, under your tongue, inside your cheeks, the roof of your mouth, and the area behind your wisdom teeth.
The most common symptoms of mouth cancer are an ulcer in your mouth or on your lip that doesn’t heal after three weeks, and discomfort or pain in your mouth. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer and any unusual lumps or swellings should also be checked out.
Mouth Cancer can affect anyone, whether you have your own teeth or not, although it is more common in people over 40. You may be aware that there is a strong link between alcohol and tobacco consumption and your chance of contracting mouth cancer, but few people are aware that UV exposure to your lips also increases the risk of mouth cancer.
You should see your dentist regularly.He or she is likely to be in the best position to check you for any signs of cancer. Any signs would usually show up long before you might be aware of anything wrong. Early detection makes a massive difference. Check that your dentist does examine you for any changes in your mouth at the same time as a check-up for your teeth. If there are any signs, then a referral to a specialist should immediately follow.
What can you do keep your mouth as healthy as possible?
- Cut down on the amount of alcohol you consume, as well as or completely eliminate tobacco consumption
- When brushing your teeth check for anything that looks and feels wrong
- Wear sunscreen or lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 to protect your lips from cancerous UV exposure rays
- Visit your dentist for regular check ups, even if you wear dentures, and especially if you drink or smoke.
Most importantly, don’t walk around in denial with your head in the sand ; If in doubt, check it out.
(Statistics, signs and symptoms taken from www.mouthcancer.org)