Mouth cancer is a dangerous abnormal growth that can affect any part of the mouth. Although until recently mouth cancer was more common in people over the age of 50, it is becoming more frequent in younger patients. More than 1,800 people in the UK lose their life to mouth cancer every year and many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was diagnosed at early stages.
What are the signs of moth cancer?
Mouth cancer can affect any part of the mouth and can appear as:
⦁ An ulcer that can be pain free and does not heal after about three weeks
⦁ A white or red patch in the mouth
⦁ A swelling or growth that fails to clear up after three weeks
What can cause mouth cancer?
⦁ Smoking is the main cause of mouth cancer. Chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan can also cause mouth cancer with betel quid chewing being responsible for half of oral cancer cases in India⦁ Alcohol is also a major cause of mouth cancer and it is advised to keep your weekly intake of alcohol to below 14 units for women and below 21 units for men
⦁ Prolonged exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of lip cancer
⦁ Human papillomavirus (HPV) HPV has also been linked to mouth cancer. HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer and is the main cause of mouth cancer in younger patients.
⦁ Poor diet with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables also increases the risk of mouth cancer
How can mouth cancer be detected early?
If mouth cancer is diagnosed at early stages the chances of the cure are very good. Regular examinations by your dentist even if you have a set of complete dentures are essentiall for the early diagnosis of mouth cancer.
⦁ will examine your lips and feel under your jaw, searching for any lumps or swelling⦁ will examine the inside of your mouth looking at your roof of your mouth, your cheeks, your throat, your floor of the mouth and your tongue.
If your dentist finds something unusual they might ask you to have a second examination after a few days or they will refer you to a specialist for further assessment.
It is also important to look out for any changes in your mouth regularly and visit your dentist if you notice any ulcers or a white or red patches that have not cleared up within two to three weeks.
How can I prevent mouth cancer?
⦁ By following a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables
⦁ Do not use tobacco and reduce the amount of alcohol
⦁ Reducing your exposure to the sun and use a protective sun cream
⦁ Regular visits to your dentist even if you wear dentures