Are You Mouth Aware? Mouth Cancer Awareness Month

November is mouth cancer awareness month and it is estimated that around 600 people will be diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK this month alone. With figures of mouth cancer cases expected to rise over the coming years, it is important that we are all mouth aware in order to identify any signs or symptoms as and when they appear. 

Early detection typically results in a 90% survival rate, so getting symptoms checked out as quickly as possible is vital. Having regular dental checkups, as well as carrying out self-examinations, will help to highlight any changes in and around your mouth. 

Mouth Cancer Awareness

How To Spot Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer does not discriminate and can affect everyone, but typically it is associated with men over the age of 40. However, we all should be paying close attention to what is going on inside our mouths and, should we spot any unexplained or unusual changes, take urgent action. Mouth cancer can strike in a number of different areas, such as the gums, cheeks, lips and tongue and, given that early detection is crucial, being mouth aware and knowing the warning signs will increase your chances of survival.

Three signs and symptoms which you absolutely should not ignore are:

  • Ulcers which do not heal within 3 weeks
  • Red and/or white patches in the mouth
  • Unusual swelling or lumps in the mouth, neck or head area

If you spot any of these symptoms, then you should see your dentist or doctor immediately. If in doubt, get checked out. Mouth cancer can be spotted in the early stages by visiting your dentist for a thorough mouth examination. 

Reducing Your Risk Of Mouth Cancer

Although mouth cancer is strongly associated with men over 40, lifestyle also plays a huge role in developing mouth cancer. Around 9 in 10 cases are linked to lifestyle risk factors, such as alcohol and smoking. The influence which our daily habits and choices have on our overall health is huge, but by amending them and making small changes towards healthier day-to-day choices, you can help to reduce your chance of developing mouth cancer. 

When it comes to mouth cancer awareness, there are five key risks which you should be aware of:

Tobacco – this is the leading cause of mouth cancer and transforms saliva into a deadly cocktail which damages cells in your mouth, which can then turn cancerous.

Alcohol  – Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to over a third of mouth cancer cases in men and a fifth in women. Heavy smokers and drinkers are up to 35 times more at risk of developing mouth cancer.  

HPV (the Human papillomavirus) – the world’s most common sexually-transmitted virus is increasingly being linked to the rise of mouth cancer cases and is expected to become one of the leading causes of the disease in the future. 

Diet  – Research has shown that a diet which is high in fresh fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing mouth cancer in the future. 

Chewing or Smokeless Tobacco  – Smokeless and chewing tobacco is not a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, contrary to popular belief, and is very popular in Asia, USA and Europe. 

Be Mouth Aware

There are more than 8,300 people diagnosed with mouth cancer each year in the UK and, in many cases, can have a lasting and substantial impact on the quality of life, even affecting how you talk, breathe and eat. Being mouth aware is vital and, as well as attending regular check-ups with your dentist, you can also carry out frequent checks for changes in your mouth, head and neck at home. Even if you have no teeth, it is vital that you regularly check for changes in the mouth. 

  • Look for red, white or dark patches on the inside of your cheeks. Put your index finger inside your cheek and your thumb on the outside. Gently squeeze to feel for any ulcers, lumps or tenderness. 
  • Look for any changes in colour or texture on the surface of your tongue and check the sides for swelling or ulcers. 
  • Run your finger along the roof and floor of your mouth, checking for any lumps or ulcers. 
  • Pull down on your lower lip and check for any sores or changes in colour. Use your thumb and index finger to feel for any lumps or changes in texture.

Mouth cancer can affect anybody, so it is important that we know what to check for. If you have any worries or concerns about changes in your mouth, or would just like to book a check-up, then get in touch today. Or call our reception on 01925 756565


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