November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, a charity campaign aiming to raise awareness of mouth cancer. By raising awareness, the campaign can save lives by promoting the important values of prevention and early detection of mouth cancer.
By communicating the key causes of mouth cancer, and signs to look out for symptoms of the disease, we can encourage people to live healthier lifestyles and to act on any unusual changes in their mouths as soon as possible.
Why raising mouth cancer awareness is so important
Last year, more than 8,300 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK, an increase of 49% compared with cases of mouth cancer diagnosis a decade ago. The number of new cases globally is now in excess of 300,000 every year. Last year, 2,722 British people lost their life to mouth cancer. Despite these figures, a worrying number of British people have little understanding about mouth cancer:
- Around 88% of British adults have heard of mouth cancer, however, only 8% are confident in their knowledge of the disease.
- 75% of British adults aren’t aware of the major symptoms and signs of mouth cancer.
- Awareness of the major risk factors for mouth cancer is still low – people don’t understand which lifestyle choices can increase the risk of mouth cancer and how healthier choices can help reduce the risk.
Whilst mouth cancer is a disease that can affect anyone, poor oral hygiene, as well as smoking and consuming alcohol can be risk factors, so making an effort to live a healthier lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of the disease.
Symptoms that you can look out for
If you have a mouth ulcer or sore, don’t leave it unattended for more than three weeks. Ulcers that don’t heal within several weeks can be a sign of mouth cancer, as can unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth, lymph glands and neck that don’t go away.
Other symptoms of mouth cancer can include pain or difficulty when swallowing, bleeding or numbness in the mouth, teeth that are loose for no reason, difficulty or pain when chewing or moving your jaw, as well as changes in your voice or other speech problems. Red or white patches on the lining of your mouth can also be a sign of mouth cancer – whilst these are fairly common and are rarely cancerous, it’s important to see a specialist if you have them, as they can sometimes develop into cancer.
What you can do
As well as looking out for symptoms of mouth cancer and regularly checking our own mouths, lips, cheeks, head and neck for any changes out of the ordinary, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly. Dentists provide an oral cancer check at any general dentistry appointment, so by visiting your dentist regularly, you stand a better chance of detecting mouth cancer in the early stages.
As well as visiting the dentist regularly and living a healthy lifestyle, practicing excellent dental hygiene is also important for reducing the risks of oral cancers. In addition to brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly, regular visits to a dental hygienist will not only ensure that your teeth sparkle, but that your teeth and gums will also be healthier, reducing the risk of oral health problems.
If you have any questions about mouth cancer or would like to book an appointment with a dentist or hygienist, please call us today on 020 7091 0677.