Cancer can occur all over the body – including our mouths – and, although it isn’t the most common cancer, its prevalence is on the rise.
Mouth cancers are more common among people over the age of 40 – particularly men – but can affect people of all ages.
Most cases are linked to tobacco and alcohol, which damage the DNA in cells and increase the cancer risk.
But the disease can also stem from a poor diet, with recent studies linking it the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a major cause of cervical cancer.
It is therefore important to be aware of the risks and symptoms, as early detection is the key to survival.
In the meantime, it’s important to be aware of any warning signs of something untoward and these include lesions in the mouth – see a dental professional if any white or red lesion fails to disappear within 14 days.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- An ulcer that doesn’t heal
- A swollen jaw
- A lump or swollen gums
- Sore throat, hoarseness or the feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Problems chewing or swallowing
- Pain in the ear
- Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
If any problems don’t disappear within two weeks, seek advice from a dental professional but remember, prevention is key and catching oral cancer early has a 90% survival rate.
At a dental screening, one of our dental team will take the following steps:
- Look at your face and neck to check symmetry and look for lumps, bumps or swellings
- Feel and press along the sides and front of your neck to check for any tenderness or lumps.
- Pull down your lower lip and look inside for any sores or change in colour. Use their thumb and forefinger to feel your lips for lumps, bumps or changes in texture.
- Use their finger to pull out the cheek so they can see inside. Look for red, white or dark patches. Put an index finger inside your cheek and their thumb on the outside and gently squeeze and roll the cheek to check for any lumps, tenderness or ulcers.
- Tilt back your head and open your mouth wide to see if there are any lumps or if there is any change in colour. Run their ﬁnger on the roof of the mouth to feel for any lumps.
- Ask you to stick out your tongue and look at the surface for any changes in colour or texture. Gently pull out your tongue, holding it with a piece of gauze and look at one side first, then the other side. Look for any swelling, change in colour or ulcers. Examine the underside of your tongue by asking you to place the tip on the roof of your mouth.
By providing mouth cancer checks for our patients at routine appointments, we hope we can help you make healthier lifestyle choices.
If you have any concerns about the health of your mouth, please book an appointment as soon as possible.
If you are looking to add sparkle to your smile in a tranquil setting, click here or request Mouth Cancer Screening by calling 01483 573 889