Every year in November The Oral Health Foundation have a campaign to highlight mouth cancer, Mouth Cancer Action Month.
The reason for the campaign is that only about 50% of the population attend a dentist and so a large amount of the population are missing out on a chance to spot mouth cancer in it’s early stages. Many mouth cancers are difficult to see in their early stages as they may be well hidden at the back of your mouth or under your tongue and they are generally painless so produce very little in the way of symptoms.
Therefore, the best way to detect mouth cancers early are to attend your dentist for regular dental checks. All dentists will carry out an oral cancer screen at a check up and if they are concerned about anything they will refer for urgent attention to a specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at your local hospital.
Can I self – examine?
Yes, of course. It is a good idea to get into a regular routine of checking the lining of your mouth and this info graphic helps give you some pointers. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see all areas but you can get used to what your mouth usually looks like and so start to notice when something is different. Be Mouthaware!
What are the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer?
As mouth cancer can strike in a number of places, including the lips, tongue, gums and cheek, and given that early detection is so crucial for survival, it’s extremely important that we all know what to look out for. Three signs and symptoms NOT to ignore are:
- Ulcers 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.
If any of these are noticed, it is essential that you tell your dentist immediately.
Whilst this is an incredibly serious subject we want everyone to have some fun to help make this subject discussed and talked about. That is why you will some silly pictures of ore team sporting Blue Lips. This is the #BlueLipSelfie campaign from The Oral Health Foundation and Denplan to get everyone joining in. If you like you can even join in and upload a selfie to www.bluelipselfie.co.uk and add your customized Blue Lips for effect.
The message is serious though, we want to encourage more people to come and get checked more regularly. If caught early, mouth cancer is a treatable condition that has a good outcome. Unfortunately when left late treatment options may be limited.
To help you we recommend
- Regular visits to your dentist
- Be mouthaware, any changes don’t hesitate to get in touch with your dentist
- Cut out smoking – a significant risk factor for mouth cancer
- Cut down alcohol intake again a risk factor that when combined with smoking increases the risk again
- Have a healthy diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables with lots of anti-oxidants.
Remember, we always carry out a full mouth cancer screen at your checks but if you have any particular concerns or something has changed since your last visit, please get in touch, don’t delay. Early detection saves lives.
Dr Monder Zbaeda
Principal Dental Surgeon