Mouth Cancer Action Month is a charity campaign organised by the Oral Health Foundation. Taking place throughout November of each year, the campaign aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and shares the importance of being aware of the health of your mouth.
In the last year alone, more than 8,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer. It is the 17th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for around 2% of all cancer’s deaths, many of which are heavily linked to the stage of diagnosis. Unfortunately, mouth cancer referrals have fallen 65% since the beginning of lockdown, according to one of England’s biggest NHS Trusts.
At J&B Dental, we understand that the more awareness spread around the importance of detecting and treating mouth cancer, the better chance we have at beating it. In doing so, it is important to know how to spot mouth cancer and recognising the early signs, as well as knowing who to speak to if something unordinary is detected. It is also important to understand how we can reduce our risks and cut down on the things that can cause mouth cancer.
What is Mouth Cancer?
Mouth cancer, often referred to as oral cancer, is when a tumour develops in a part of the mouth. This may be on the tongue, inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, the lips or the gums.
Although less common, tumours can also develop in the glands that produce saliva, the tonsils and the part of the throat connecting the mouth to the windpipe (pharynx).
What are the signs and symptoms?
According to the NHS, the symptoms of mouth cancer include:
- Mouth ulcers that are painful and do not heal within weeks.
- Unexplained and persistent lumps in the mouth or neck that do not go away.
- Unexplained loss of teeth or sockets that do not heal after extractions.
- Unexplained and persistent numbness or odd feeling on the lips or tongue.
- White or red patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue. (These can be early signs of cancer so they should be checked).
- Any unexplained changes in speech (such as speaking with a lisp).
How can I get checked?
If you have any of the listed symptoms, you should make an appointment as soon as possible with your GP, who will perform a physical examination of your mouth and learn more about your symptoms.
Alternatively, your dentist will be able to recognise the signs and therefore regular check-up appointments with your dentist will be beneficial. If you are registered with one of our practices, contact us to arrange a check-up.
Early detection can boost your survival from 50% to 90%, highlighting how crucial it is to report any symptoms to your doctor or dentist if they persist.
How can I prevent mouth cancer?
The most common causes of mouth cancer are:
- Smoking/ using tobacco in other ways such as chewing tobacco.
- Drinking alcohol
- Infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Because of this, the most effective ways of treating it are:
- Not using tobacco in any form, including smoking and chewing.
- Ensuring you remain in the recommended weekly guidelines of alcohol intake provided by the NHS. (no more than 14 units of alcohol a week)
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes fresh vegetables, citrus fruits, olive oil and fish.
What you can do to take part in Mouth Cancer Action Month 2021:
The more support that this campaign receives the more awareness that will be spread about mouth cancer.
Some easy ways to show your support include understanding what is likely to cause mouth cancer and reducing your own risk, as well as acting quickly and effectively when you see something out of the ordinary by visiting your dentist regularly. Fundraising is the perfect way to raise awareness while also supporting the charity to continue fighting this cause. Visit www.mouthcancerfoundation.org/fundraise/ to learn more on how you can show your support!