“‘If in doubt, get checked out’.
Oral cancer is often referred to as mouth cancer. There has been an increase in raising awareness for this condition, due to the unfortunate increase in incidence, particularly in younger people.
UK statistics by Cancer Research UK show that mouth cancer is the 16th most common cancer in the UK (2011), with mouth cancer cases having increased by a third in the last decade.
It saddens me when I see someone with suspected mouth cancer, when prevention, in most cases is all they really needed.
There a number of factures that significantly increase your risk of developing mouth cancer and these include:
- Use and abuse of tobacco (Smoking or chewing)
If you smoke and drink alcohol you increase your risk by 30 times.
3. Poor diet (deficiencies in Vitamins A, E or C)
4. Solar radiation from the sun has been linked to cancer of the lip
5. The human papillomavirus (HPV)
There has been some head scratching as to the reasons why there is an increase in the number of younger people with oral cancer.
Some evidence suggests that an increasing tendency for oral sex may be behind the rise in numbers due to the transmission of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) during this activity.
Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems, but sometimes HPV infections persist and may cause a variety of serious problems.
My advice to anyone worried about the risk of developing oral cancer is to reduce or eliminate the risk factors.
There are many benign conditions that arise in the mouth, however I urge anyone who is worried about something in their mouth to get it checked.
Look out for these:
- Ulcers in the mouth which do not heal in three weeks
- Red and white patches in the mouth
- Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area
And book an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible to be safe if any of these relate to you.
Sometimes it’s very difficult to tell you what something may be in your mouth without doing a biopsy. A biopsy is a small procedure carried out at the hospital, which involves taking a small sample of the lesion inside your mouth, and sending it to a lab. They then can give you a diagnosis a few weeks later.
Remember: Be safe and attend for regular dental examinations.
- The aim of this article is not worry anybody but it’s just about being safe and getting regular checks. As with any condition prevention is rightly regarded as better than cure, even when detected early.
- Sensible use of alcohol and complete removal of tobacco use from your lifestyle are the first steps. There a number of places to help you to quit smoking and advice should be sort from your dentist or doctor.
- A good and healthy diet, as well as thorough oral hygiene is of great importance to. Regular and effective brushing with an electric toothbrush and a toothpaste containing stannous fluoride will help remove nasty bugs in your mouth which cause dental decay and gum disease. For more information visit brickfieldsdentalcare.co.uk
Written by Dr Amit patel BChD MJDF RCS (Eng) – Dentist at Brickfields Dental Care