Being aware of the signs of mouth cancer can make a huge difference to the outcome: early detection results in a 90 per cent survival rate. Awareness is on the up, thanks in part to the British Dental Health Foundation’s ‘Mouth Cancer Action Month’ and some of us know to be mindful of persistent ulcers, lumps and red or white patches. At our specialist dental practice in London, our dentists and hygienists routinely perform a careful visual assessment of the soft tissues of the mouth, referring you on to one of our specialist dentists if you have any concerning signs.
How common is oral cancer?
The latest figures show that 18 people in the UK are diagnosed with mouth cancer every day; these figures have increased by a third in the last decade. While survival rates are good when the cancer is detected early, oral cancer claims more than 2,000 lives per year – that’s more than testicular and cervical cancer combined. There is a very strong link between mouth cancer and lifestyle and environmental factors, with smokers and heavy drinkers being among those at higher risk.
Regular dental check-ups are vital to oral health
The most common symptoms are red or white patches in the mouth or throat, a lump, or ulcers that have not cleared after three weeks. Other symptoms may include persistent pain in the mouth, difficulty when swallowing, swollen glands in your neck, and bleeding or numbness in the mouth.
During a check up at our specialist dental practice, your dentist will thoroughly check your head and neck, lips, cheeks, roof and floor of mouth and your tongue, looking and feeling for changes in colour and texture, and for lumps, bumps and swellings. We always advise our London patients to self-check as part of their at-home oral hygiene regime.