As Mouth Cancer Action Month approaches its final week we thought we would summarise some key facts and give details on further reading.
The signs and symptoms of mouth cancer include:
• A mouth ulcer that does not heal within three weeks.
• White or red patches in the mouth.
• Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth, head or neck.
• Any persistent ‘hoarseness’.
Early diagnosis is vital. It increases our chances of beating the disease and gives us a much higher quality of life. Self-checks and regular dental visits are extremely important for spotting mouth cancer in its initial stages. If in doubt, get checked out!
Causes of Mouth Cancer
Around one in six (17%) oral cavity cancers are directly caused by smoking. The risk of being diagnosed with mouth cancer for a smoker is almost double (91%) that of a never-smoker.
Drinking alcohol to excess is responsible for around a third of all mouth cancers. Those who drink more than 10 units of alcohol a week could be increasing the risk of mouth cancer by 81%. For those who heavily drink alcohol and also smoke the risk increases by 30 times.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) type-16 and 18 are linked to
around three in four (73%) of oropharyngeal cancers and more
than one in ten (12%) oral cavity and hypopharynx cancers. Risk is
higher in those with more sexual partners.
Age and gender
As we get older, our cells and DNA become more damaged. This is either biological or from exposure to the other risk factors. We do not know why mouth cancer rates are higher in men, however, it could be due to greater exposure to risk factors.
The other risk factors associated with mouth cancer include: areca (betel) nut, paan masala (Gutkha), chewing tobacco, smokeless tobacco, x-rays and gamma radiation, asbestos, salted fish, formaldehyde, wood dust, overexposure to sunlight, environmental smoke.
One of the most important factors for early diagnosis of mouth cancer is self-examination at home. The other is to maintain regular dental visits, where visual mouth cancer checks are done as part of the routine check-up.
If you would like more information on then further reading is available. The State of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2018/2019 is the United Kingdom’s first comprehensive review into mouth cancer.
The report has been released by the Oral Health Foundation and Simplyhealth Professionals as part of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month.
The State of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2018/2019 looks at the very latest statistics for the disease.