Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Mouth Cancer Action Month has been running all throughout November with the aim of raising awareness of this potentially fatal disease. The campaign is run every year by the Oral Health Foundation and highlights what symptoms to look for and how important it is to regularly have dental health checks. At JL Dental Care, when we’re carrying out your check-up, we always look for anything unusual or any signs which need further investigation. We don’t just look at your teeth!
In this blog we will be outlining some of the causes of mouth cancer as well as giving you advice on ways to minimise the risk of developing the disease.
What causes mouth cancer?
Last year in the UK, there were 8,337 people diagnosed with mouth cancer, and globally there are over 300,000 cases of this form of cancer per year. Last year it claimed more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined. Mouth cancer is most common in men over the age of 40, however new research has shown that it is becoming more common in younger patients and women. So, what specifically can cause mouth cancer to develop?
The two most common causes of mouth cancer are tobacco and alcohol consumption. The chemicals found in tobacco make it easy for cancerous cells to form, and alcohol dehydrates the cell walls inside your mouth, greatly increasing the chances of cancer cells arising. Furthermore, smoking and drinking at the same time can increase the chances of mouth cancer by 30 times! This happens because alcohol makes the mouth more absorbent, making it much easier for carcinogens to permeate the tissue inside your mouth.
However, although these are the main two causes of mouth cancer, it is still possible for ANYONE to contract the disease, so early detection is essential.
How do I minimise my risk of developing mouth cancer?
The easiest way to reduce your risk of mouth cancer is to cut down on, or cut out completely, alcohol and cigarettes. However, for some this is easier said than done, so the risk of contracting mouth cancer can also be reduced by practising good oral hygiene, going for regular dental check-ups and keeping a healthy balanced diet.
How can I spot it?
Many cases of mouth cancer are detected at stage 4- when it is just too late to treat it. However, if it is spotted earlier, the chances of successfully treating mouth cancer becomes 9 out of 10! This is why it is so important to know the signs of the disease, so look out for:
· Mouth ulcers which do not heal in two to three weeks
· Red and white patches in the mouth
· Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth
If you have noticed any change or anything unusual in your mouth, or any of the signs above it is imperative you call us on 020 8958 0136 to book a thorough examination. The Oral Health Foundation say the most important message is ‘If in doubt, get checked out’ as it may save your life!