Most people have heard of cancer affecting parts of the body such as breasts, skin or lungs but there are 640,000 cases of mouth cancer diagnosed each year with more than 2,000 people losing their life to mouth cancer and this number is rising.
Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer but it is strongly associated with age and gender of a person. Around twice as many men are diagnosed with mouth cancer than women and it is more common in those aged over 40.
Mouth cancer can strike in a number of places including the lips, tongue, gums and cheek with the most common symptoms being:
- sore mouth ulcers that don’t heal
- unexplained persistent lumps in the mouth that don’t go away
- unexplained persistent lumps in the lymph glands in the neck that don’t go away
More than nine out of ten cases of mouth cancer are linked to our lifestyle choices and certain risk factors:
- Tobacco – is the leading cause of mouth cancer with two thirds of all cases linked to smoking or chewing tobacco. Smokers are putting themselves at almost three times higher risk of developing the disease. Having a morning cigarette doubles your chances of getting mouth cancer as the tobacco transforms your saliva into a deadly cocktail damaging the cells of your mouth
- Alcohol – excessive use of alcohol is linked to more than a third of mouth cancer cases. Heavy drinkers and smokers are up to 35 times more at risk
- Diet – more than half of cases in the UK are linked to poor diet however new research has suggested there is a noticeable risk reduction with each additional daily serving of fruit or vegetables.
- Sunlight – over exposure to sunlight can cause cancer of the lips.
Early detection of mouth cancer can result in a 90% survival rate so it is extremely important that you are aware of what is going on in your mouth and that you have regular routine dental appointments. Examine yourself regularly for ulcers that haven’t healed within 3 weeks, unusual red or white patches, lumps in your neck or jaw or persistent hoarseness. If you have any of the symptoms it may not be anything to worry about but it is imperative that you let a dental professional have a look.
If you would like any further information or are worried about any symptoms, please call us on 0115 9733591.