Why Does Mouth Cancer Matter?

This November, dentists and other healthcare professionals all over the UK are joining forces for Mouth Cancer Action Month. It is an annual initiative that is run by the UK charity, the Oral Health Foundation, and hopes to raise awareness about the dangers of mouth cancer, as well as help people to understand the causes and symptoms. So what exactly is mouth cancer and why does it matter? We take a closer look.

Mouth cancer – a growing cause for concern

In the UK, an alarming 8,300 people-a-year are now diagnosed with mouth cancer – a 49% increase compared to a decade ago and 135% compared with 20 years ago. This makes it one of the few types of cancers that is not showing any signs of decline. The seriousness of the disease is shown by figures which also reveal that 2,722 Brits lost their life to mouth cancer last year. For those diagnosed with the disease, the 10-year survival rate is between 19% and 58%, depending on where the cancer strikes and how early it is identified.

Understanding mouth cancer

The research, published by the Oral Health Foundation and Simplyhealth Professionals to coincide with November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month, discovered that there was severe lack of awareness when it comes to mouth cancer, including understanding the main risk factors as well as being aware of the signs and symptoms.

Just under half (45%) of British adults admitted to not having any understanding about mouth cancer.  Three in four (75%) said they did not know the symptoms while more than four in five (82%) did not know where mouth cancer appears. Now, it is more important than ever that people become more aware of mouth cancer – and that is what Mouth Cancer Action Month is all about.

What causes mouth cancer?

As with most cancers, the biggest risk factors for mouth cancer are smoking and drinking alcohol to excess. Another increasingly common cause, however is the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is now known to be transmitted through oral sex. Another significant cause of mouth cancer is poor diet.

It is important to bear in mind, however, that mouth cancer can affect anybody, meaning it is vitally important to recognise the symptoms.

Do dental implants increase my risk of mouth cancer?

There is no evidence to suggest that dental implants are in any way associated with a higher risk of mouth cancer. Although there have been limited studies, in depth research conducted in 2012 by the US National Institute of Health found no correlation between implant surgery and cancer.

Generally speaking, the benefits of dental implants far outweigh any cause for concern. If you do have any questions or fears, your implantologist will be happy to discuss these with you.

What are the symptoms of mouth cancer?

The early warning signs of mouth cancer that people should look out for are:

  • mouth ulcers that last longer than three weeks
  • red or white patches
  • unusual lumps and swellings

The disease can appear in the mouth, lips, head and neck. If you become aware of any of these symptoms, it is important that you get an examination by a dentist as soon as possible. Patients should never be afraid to seek advice or put off booking an appointment if they have any concerns.

Dentists – the first line of defence

Although it is important to look out for the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer as part of your regular oral hygiene routine, one of the best ways to ensure that mouth cancer can be spotted, diagnosed and treated at the earliest possible stage is to ensure you have a regular dental examination.

It may not always be easy to see symptoms yourself, depending where they occur, and some are not easy to distinguish for the untrained eye. Your dentist is trained in what to look for, and will check for any symptoms of mouth cancer as part of your regular examination any time they see you – including at our complimentary consultations. They’ll also be able to examine parts of the mouth that you are unable to see yourself. Early diagnosis gives you the best possible chance of survival. Ensuring you attend your regular checkups will not just help to save your teeth – it could save your life.

To find out more about Mouth Cancer Action Month and learn more about the disease, visit the official website.

If you have any questions or concerns about mouth cancer or would like to book an appointment or enquire about becoming a member today, call now on Luton 01582 518100 or Wolverhampton 01902 500823.