What Do You Know About Mouth Cancer?
Awareness is growing about this potentially deadly form of cancer.
Although not one of the more common cancers in the UK, mouth cancer is still diagnosed in around 18 people in the country every day. Over a year, this works out at around 6.5 thousand people whose lives may change significantly. Although most of these will be treatable, some patients will unfortunately die from it. Given the seriousness of this situation, it is increasingly important to have a six monthly check up at the Foxhall Dental Practice to monitor your oral health, not just your teeth and gums.
Men especially, are more likely to develop mouth cancer, although this may be due to factors such as lifestyle. With good care though, the risk of having mouth cancers can be minimised.
In addition to increasing the chances of tooth loss through gum disease, smoking is a leading cause of oral cancers. Approximately two thirds of those who have mouth cancer are smokers, or have smoked in the past. Even if you don’t smoke but inhabit smoking environments, this will add to your risk factors. If you are considering stopping smoking but taking up chewing tobacco; don’t. This magnifies the risks by around fifteen times!
Whilst the occasional drink should cause few problems, excessive drinking has been linked to around a third of all oral cancers. If you drink heavily, this is another reason to at least cut back to reduce the risks.
Unfortunately, if you have a history of cancer in the family, you are around seventy times more likely to suffer from oral cancer than if there is no cancer history. Good oral health care can help to reduce these risks though, and early detection may also mean more effective treatment.
Diagnosing oral cancer
Our Ipswich dental team are not doctors and cannot diagnose oral cancer directly. What we can do though is to monitor your mouth, including tongue and cheeks, for any unusual symptoms. Some of these may be explained through discussion, for example if you had burnt your tongue recently. Those which cannot be easily explained though, should be seen by your GP for further investigation. In many cases, there may well turn out to be other causes, but if oral cancer is diagnosed, the sooner you are treated, the better.
Your first step towards good oral health is to have your mouth inspected regularly. If you have not seen a dentist for some time, now is a good time to start. We are always happy to see new patients at the Foxhall Dental Practice and we can be contacted at our Ipswich surgery by calling us on 01473 258396.