Did you know that that November is Mouth Cancer Action Month?
Here at Moreton in Marsh Dental we check every single patient every visit for signs of mouth cancer but what is it and how can we help you reduce your risk factors?
Let’s start with some facts; what is Mouth cancer?
Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether you have your own teeth or not. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, the most recent 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. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are the main forms of tobacco use in the UK however, the traditional ethnic habits of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly dangerous.
Alcohol can increase the risk of mouth cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is even greater. Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.
What are the signs of mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips.
Mouth cancer can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal after three weeks. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer, as can any unusual lump or swelling.
Be aware and look for changes in the mouth.
It is important to visit Caroline or Hannah if these areas do not heal within three weeks.
Who’s affected by mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world, but it’s much less common in the UK.
Around 6,800 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year in the UK, which is about 2% of all cancers diagnosed.
Most cases of mouth cancer occur in older adults aged 50 to 74. Only one in eight (12.5%) cases affect people younger than 50.
However, Mouth cancer can occur in younger adults. The Human Papilloma Virus is thought to be associated with the majority of these cases.
Cancer of the mouth is also more common in men than in women. This may be because, on average, men tend to drink more alcohol than women.
How can mouth cancer be detected early?
Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by your dentist during a thorough mouth examination which is why check ups can be so important. All the clinicians at Moreton in Marsh Dental examine the inside of your mouth and your tongue with the help of a small mirror at every visit. Remember, we are able to see parts of your mouth that you cannot see easily yourself.
Preventing mouth cancer
The three most effective ways of preventing mouth cancer developing are:
- not smoking
- ensuring you don’t drink more than the recommended weekly limits for alcohol
- a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables – particularly tomatoes – and citrus fruits, olive oil and fish
As healthcare providers we recommend you do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. One unit is approximately a small glass of wine, a single measure of spirits or a 1/3 of a pint of beer.
We felt the diagram from drinkaware was a great visual as we all know how easily the units can add up. If you drink as much as 14 units a week, it’s best to spread it evenly over three or more days.
So just to recap although Mouth cancer is uncommon, regular visits can help detect any abnormalities in their early stages and this helps for a positive long term prognosis. To raise awareness we will be wearing our blue badges throughout November in the practice and of course if you are ever worried do not hesitate to call Chloe to make an appointment for us to check it out.
Best wishes Caroline and all the team x