The Oral Health Foundation runs Mouth Cancer Action Month to raise mouth cancer awareness, and encourages both you and I to shout out loud about the life saving message of being more ‘mouthaware’.
But why do we need to be more #MouthAware?
Well, mouth cancer claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer, COMBINED! Just last year over 8000 people were diagnosed with mouth / oral cancer, just in the UK. These are shocking stats, and just like we check our boobs and balls, we must be vigilant in checking our mouths too.
*Early detection of mouth cancer is crucial, and it could just save your life if found in time.*
Signs & Symptoms of Mouth Cancer – What to look out for
Whether you’re getting regularly checked by a hygienist, or you feel comfortable and confident to check for oral cancer yourself; it’s imperative that you know what you are looking for.
There are a number of common symptoms that you should look out for and be aware of.
These signs and symptoms include;
- Mouth ulcers or lesions that are sore and do not heal within a few weeks
- Changes in colour and textures of certain areas
- Persistent, unexplained lumps or bumps in the mouth or neck that don’t go away
- Unexplained loose teeth or sockets that do not heal after extractions
- Unexplained, persistent numbness or an odd feeling on the lip or tongue
- White or red spots or patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue
- Changes in speech, such as a lisp
If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms and they don’t get better within 3 weeks, particularly if you drink and / or smoke, then please get in touch with us to see our Hygienist or Dental team. They can give you an oral screening and rule out anything serious, and put your mind at ease.
Preventing mouth cancer
As well as ensuring that we are checking our mouths regularly for the early signs of mouth cancer, we can also try and reduce the risk of us getting it in the first place.
Some effective ways of reducing the risk of mouth cancer, or stopping it from coming back after successful treatment, are:
- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco – Smoking or chewing tobacco, and even vaping, exposes cells to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals. It can also cause gum disease, tooth loss, receding gums and more.
- Drink alcohol in moderation – Chronic / excessive alcohol drinking can be cacogenic for us too, leading to mouth cancer and other oral and health complications. It’s advised to drink in moderation, under 14 units of alcohol per week, spread out over days rather than all at once.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure – Harmful UV rays from the sun can be dangerous for our face and lips, causing mouth/skin cancer. Protect the precious skin on your lips and face by staying in the shade where possible, wearing a peaked or brimmed hat that shades your entire face, or applying face/lip sunscreen as part of your sun protection regime.
- See your dentist regularly – You should check yourself monthly and visiting your dentist/hygienist should also be an important part of your dental / health routine. Just like any other cancer screening, allow the professionals to inspect your entire mouth for abnormalities that may indicate mouth cancer or precancerous concerns.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet – Food can also include carcinogens. Whether you eat meat, plants, or anything in between, try and eat fresh, whole foods that aren’t overly processed and packed with chemicals, salt and saturated fat. Treat yourself in moderation and balance it out with a varied diet full of vegetables, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Ultimately, cancer can happen to any one of us whether we are super fit and healthy, young, old, or if we eat, drink or smoke whatever we want. However, the healthier you eat and treat your body, the better it can become at protecting you, and fighting the disease, if it does appear.
Mouth cancer is most common in the over 50’s, but can still happen to anyone, of any age or background.
But don’t panic!
With an early diagnosis of mouth cancer, the chances of surviving can be nine out of ten – that’s amazing odds!
That’s why it’s so SO important to check regularly, yourself and by a professional, as well as being mouthaware and knowing what you’re looking for.
The whole purpose of Mouth Cancer Action Month is to put this common disease in the spotlight, raise awareness around it, educate people how to check for it and what to be wary of, when it’s time to go see a dentist, hygienist or doctor, and how to potentially catch it early so it can be treatable.
As Dentists we fully support this action month and we shall be joining the awareness campaign too, posting important mouth cancer advice and important things to know, for the rest of the month on our socials.
Whilst we invite you to follow us to see this content, we also wish to invite all our patients/followers to ask any questions, share any concerns, or indeed pop in for an oral screening.
You can call us on 0207 272 6818 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Together, we will fight cancer!