Every November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, a nationwide initiative backed by the Oral Health Foundation and designed to raise an understanding about the implications of mouth cancer and how we can all be more aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for.
Mouth cancer is on the rise, with 8,302 new cases in the UK per year. In the last decade this figure has increase by a massive 49%.1
What are the risk factors?
While it is impossible to know what causes all mouth cancers, there are certain factors that are known to increase the risk, many of which are preventable lifestyle habits, including:
Smoking, chewing and smokeless tobacco – More than 60% of mouth cancers are linked to smoking
Excessive alcohol consumption – Alcohol is linked to 30% of mouth cancers, while smoking and drinking combined increases the risk of mouth cancer by 30 times
The HPV virus – already known as a major cause of cervical cancer, research shows HPV could soon rival smoking and drinking as a main cause of mouth cancer
Diet – an unhealthy diet lacking in vitamins and minerals has been linked to a third of mouth cancers.
In addition to these avoidable risk factors, a previous cancer history, or a family cancer history can also increase the risk of developing mouth cancer.
What are the signs?
The signs and symptoms to be aware of are:
Mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks
Red and white patches in the mouth
Any unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area.
If you notice anything unusual, always consult your GP or dental practice for an urgent appointment.
During every dental check-up at Bamford Dental Practice we always carry out routine mouth cancer screening. This involves checking for the signs listed above by looking and feeling all of the soft tissues areas in and around the mouth, head, and neck areas. If you would like to know more about mouth cancer, please get in touch on 01433 651 270.