November is mouth cancer awareness month. It is held every year in November and is continually supported by the Mouth Cancer Foundation and the British Dental Health Foundation.
Mouth cancer seems only to be predominantly discussed within dentistry, which is surprising as is causes more deaths per number of known cases than cervical and breast cancer.
Unfortunately, statistics surrounding those with mouth cancer is rising. Is this because more people are aware of symptoms? Or is this because people are cutting down on the things that increase your chances of getting mouth cancer?
Up to 90% of all mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors such as -
· Smoking tobacco – this increases the likelihood of getting mouth cancer by up to ten times
· Excessive alcohol intake – you are up to 30% more likely to get mouth cancer if you your alcohol intake is excessive
· Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – many recent studies have linked HPV to mouth cancer
· Unbalanced diet - not having the recommended intake of vital vitamins and minerals
· Previous cancer history – studies suggest that, unfortunately, if you have had mouth cancer previously you are at risk of getting it again
Due to the growing awareness of mouth cancer the survival rate is beginning to improve. This may be due to a higher early detection rate and prompt treatment. Unfortunately, without the early detection of mouth cancer, it is expected that in the next 10 years at least 60,000 people will be diagnosed and around half of those people will not survive. Following treatment for mouth cancer, a lot of patients will be left with varied disabilities such as loss of teeth, unrepairable damage to the throat and tongue, facial deformities and daily struggles of not being able to talk and eat ‘normally’ – this can then impact their social lives and confidence in public places.
The Mouth Cancer Foundation is tirelessly campaigning to raise awareness and for early mouth cancer detection to be able to get patients treated earlier which ultimately increases their life expectancy.
How can we spot mouth cancer early?
During your regular check-up appointments with your dentist they will perform a thorough mouth cancer screening test which entails – firstly, checking the outside of the patients face, mouth and neck, here they are checking for any lumps and bumps or any abnormalities that were not there previously. Secondly, the dentist will then check inside your mouth, here they will check your cheeks, floor of the mouth, tongue, back of the mouth and roof of the mouth. If you, as a patient, have any concerns or worries about something that does not feel or look right, book and appointment to see your dentist and they can check it for you. It is incredibly important that you always attend your regular dental appointments because if there is any sign of mouth cancer, it can be detected and treated early.
If you would like any more information surrounding how you can do your own regular checks or information about fundraising activities to help raise awareness of mouth cancer you can visit –