Over the years, mouth cancer has managed to keep a fairly low profile. Ask anyone to list types of cancers they have been affected by, be it personally or someone they know, or cancers they fear, and cancer of the mouth probably won’t be mentioned. Yet mouth cancer claims more lives per year than testicular and cervical cancer combined. The latest figures show that 6,767 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK in 2011, and, annually, over 2,000 people lose their life to it.
At our specialist dental practice in central London, we are promoting Mouth Cancer Action Month whose purpose is to raise awareness of the disease. Here are four things you need to know about mouth cancer.
- Warning signs. The three key signs not to be ignored are: ulcers that do not heal in 3 weeks, red and white patches in the mouth, and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth/head/neck area.
- Be vigilant. Detected early, survival rates are 90%, but surveys suggest that half of us would leave a mouth ulcer for more than a month before seeking medical advice.
- Lifestyle matters. With 85% of mouth cancers in women and 90% in men linked to lifestyle and environmental factors, it is all the more important to heed advice about adopting a healthy regime. Risk factors include smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet, the HPV virus, and solar radiation.
- Oral health matters too. Poor dental health can put you at risk. Those with periodontal disease are 2.5 times more likely to develop mouth cancer, and risk for those with six or more missing teeth is 60 times higher. During any appointment at our central London specialist dental practice, we will look for early signs and advise on preventative care.