World Cancer Day is coming up this week (4th February) to drive awareness of cancer and the work going on across the globe to help beat it.
The good news is that UK cancer survival has doubled over the last 40 years, thanks to incredible research and the development of new treatments funded by organisations such as our charity partner Cancer Research UK.
While that’s positive, mouth cancer is becoming a growing problem in the UK. Cases are expected to rise by around a third over the next 20 years. It’s more common in males than females.
As with any cancer, early diagnosis can make a real difference. It’s important to be aware of any changes in your mouth as well as scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist to help look after your oral health.
It sometimes surprises people to learn that when you’re in the chair, dentists are looking over your whole mouth for abnormalities – it’s not just your teeth!
Symptoms of mouth cancer can include:
- mouth ulcers lasting more than 3 weeks, or
- red or red and white patches in the mouth or
- an unexplained lump in the neck or mouth, or on the lip.
But anything new or unusual for you that doesn’t go away by itself should always be checked out by a dentist or doctor. In most cases it won’t be cancer, but finding it early can make a real difference.
Diagnosing mouth cancer
During a check-up your dentist will look for any problems with your gums, tongue and other parts of your mouth. They make sure that everything looks healthy and investigate any unusual symptoms. Should they notice anything out of the ordinary they’ll refer you on to a specialist.
Having regular check-ups with your dentist can help keep your mouth healthy and if something isn’t right could help it be picked up earlier.
World Cancer Day - What you can do
Show your support
Everyone is being urged to wear a Unity Band on World Cancer Day to show their support. To make it easy for you to get your hands on one they are now available in each of our practices nationwide. Find your local practice here.
Pledge to get your dental check up
When you go for your check up the dentist checks both the condition of your teeth and the overall health of your mouth. However, according to the Oral Health Foundation around one in three people don’t visit their dentist regularly. Visit a dentist in 2018 as part of a pledge to look after your health.
Reduce your risk: Stop smoking and cut down on alcohol
The two biggest risk factors for mouth cancer are smoking, or chewing tobacco products, and drinking alcohol. Smoking alone causes more than 6 in 10 cases of oral cancer in the UK. Both are bad for your mouth and teeth, as well as your overall health, so stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol are a good idea. Read more here.
Find out more about World Cancer Day on Cancer Research UK’s website.