Regular patients of Barnet Smiles will know that our team place a lot of emphasis on raising awareness of mouth cancer and ensuring that we carry out screening at every six-month dental check-up.
This November is Mouth Cancer Awareness Month, a nationwide initiative backed by the Oral Health Foundation that aims to raise the profile of this type of cancer through public education about the signs and symptoms to look out for.
What are the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer?
- Mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks
- Red and white patches in the mouth
- Any unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area.
- Difficuty swallowing of chewing
What puts me at risk of mouth cancer?
- Tobacco use. smoking tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, pipes) or cheweing tobacco or betel quid is one of the most well know risks of mouth cancer
- Consuming large amounts of alcohol. Heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of developing mouth cancer. For those that both smoke and drink the risks are even higher.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a type of virus that infects the skin and cells. For most people HPV causes no harm and it gets better on its own.1 Mouth cancer has been linked to HPV and is generally found at the back of the throat, base of the tongue or in the tonsils. The risk of HPV has been linked to certain sexual behaviours including oral sex or having a high number of sexual partners.
- Other risk factors include sun exposure, diet, weak immune system, history of previous cancer or mouth conditions such as lichen planus with associated red or white patches.
Why is this important?
Mouth cancer is on the rise, with 8,302 new cases in the UK per year. In the last decade this figure has increase by a massive 49%.2
Unfortunately, there is less public awareness about mouth cancer – in comparison to other forms of cancer – even though more people will die of mouth cancer each year in the UK than of cervical and testicular cancer combined. The reason for this is because mouth can often go undetected until the later stages of the disease, due to little or no awareness around the risk factors or the signs and symptoms to look out for.
Mouth cancer screening at Barnet Smiles
As with any cancer, early detection is crucial, which is why we recommend that patients should attend for a mouth cancer screening on a six-monthly basis. At Barnet Smiles, we carry this out as standard as part of your routine dental check-up; this is our promise to you.
A mouth cancer screening simply involves an examination of your mouth, throat, and neck. Your dental professional will feel the tissues in your mouth to check for any lumps, and they will also do the same around your throat and neck. They will also look for other signs such as red or white patches, or sores in the mouth. If there are any concerns, we will talk to you about them and fully explain the next steps.
In addition, we would also advise patients to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, as outlined above. If you have any worries, do not wait until your next dental check-up, please contact us on 02084416201 so that we can see you sooner and check everything out.