Mouth Cancer claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined each year in the UK. This is why the Oral Health Foundation continue to campaign for awareness every November during Mouth Cancer Action Month, and here at London Holistic Dental Centre we are proud to support the initiative. Since their first event in the year 2000, the Oral Health Foundation has invested nearly £2 million on improving awareness and education around mouth cancer, and this year is no different.
This November, Mouth Cancer Action month is all about being ‘Mouthaware.’ Being Mouthaware is about three things:
- Knowing how to spot mouth cancer early and regularly checking for unusual changes in the mouth.
- Understanding what is likely to cause mouth cancer and reducing your risk.
- Acting quickly when you see something out of the ordinary by visiting your dentist.
To help you with these steps, we’re going to run through the signs of mouth cancer, as well as the causes of the disease. By spotting mouth cancer early, we have a much better chance of beating it. With early diagnosis, the chances of surviving mouth cancer are nine out of ten – those odds are pretty good, and that’s why knowing what to look out for is so important. Sadly, far too many mouth cancers are not spotted early enough, so during Mouth Cancer Action Month we are promoting the message ‘if in doubt, get checked out’. We encourage everybody to pay close attention to what’s going on inside the mouth. Most importantly, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is essential that you tell your dentist or doctor immediately.
You should check for mouth cancer by looking at your cheeks, gums, lips, tongue and tonsils, as well as the roof and floor of your mouth, your head and your neck. Look out for mouth ulcers that do not heal within 3 weeks, red or white patches in the mouth or unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth, head and neck. It’s really not difficult to take 5 minutes just to have a look around your mouth- and it may save your life.
Now, on to the risk factors. 90% of all mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors- this means, with a few small changes, you can cut your chances of developing the cancer. Here are some of the most common causes of mouth cancer:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco– tobacco usage, whether it be smoking or chewing, can increase the risk of mouth cancer by 10 times. Furthermore, 2/3 mouth cancer cases are linked to smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Alcohol– drinking also increases your risk, and accounts for just under a third of all cases- in addition, smoking and drinking together can increase the chances of developing mouth cancer by a whopping 30 times!
- Diet– increasing evidence shows that a poor diet is a leading factor in mouth cancer development, due to a lack of vitamins and minerals. Interestingly, Omega 3 has been found to reduce this risk, as well as high-fibre foods.
- Sunbeds and sunlight– too much UV (Ultraviolet) radiation, either from natural sunlight or sunbeds, is a leading cause of skin cancer- and this can develop on the lips and inside the mouth too.
It is important to remember that if any or most of these apply to you, it doesn’t mean you will develop mouth cancer. We aren’t trying to scare you, just make you aware of the risks! If you want to find out more about Mouth Cancer Action Month, visit the Oral Health Foundation’s website at https://www.dentalhealth.org/mouthcancer, or if you are worried about potentially having mouth cancer yourself, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Here at London Holistic Dental Centre, we care about your oral health, so if you’re in doubt, get it checked out by one of our lovely team- to book an appointment just call 020 7487 5221.