A very important reason for attending regular dental appointments is for your dentist to provide mouth cancer screening. There are approximately 6,000 new cases of mouth cancer in the UK every year and of those, 1,800 will die from it.
Your dentist will examine the soft tissues of your mouth (the lips, tongue, inside the cheeks and throat) looking for anything unusual. He or she will also take your medical history and assess your individual mouth cancer risk, and will offer advice whenever risks are high. The main risk factors for mouth cancer include smoking, alcohol consumption and the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV), which is also known for its role in cervical cancer.
Signs and symptoms you should look out for:
In the early stages, mouth cancer is often painless, and the physical signs may not be obvious.
Early indicators might include:
- Red and/or white discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
- Any soreness which does not heal within 14 days.
- Hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time.
More advanced indicators are:
- A sensation that something is stuck in your throat.
- Numbness in the oral region.
- Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue.
- Difficulty in swallowing.
- A sore under a denture that, even after denture adjustment, still does not heal.
- A lump or thickening which develops in the mouth or on the neck.
When found early, the mouth cancer five-year survival rate is good, at approximately 83%. However when found late, unfortunately the mouth cancer five-year survival rate is poor at approximately 32%.
Clearly, finding oral cancer in its early stages is the key.
Please contact us if you have any concerns.