Around 8,300 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year in the UK, which is about 1 in every 50 cancers diagnosed. More than 2 in 3 cases of mouth cancer develop in adults over the age of 55.
What are the causes?
Mouth cancer doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or lifestyle. However, certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing mouth cancer including smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol to excess, a poor diet, and the HPV virus spread through oral sex. Recognising the symptoms early and visiting a dentist regularly can save lives.
What are the symptoms?
Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. Mouth cancer can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into cancer. Be aware of any unusual lumps in your mouth or jaw area and any persistent hoarseness. It is important to visit your dental team or doctor if these areas do not heal within three weeks. If you aren’t sure, go for a check-up anyway.
Can mouth cancer be cured?
If the symptoms of mouth cancer are caught and treated early, the chances of successful treatment good. This is why it’s especially important to visit a dentist regularly so that they can spot any of the early signs before it’s too late.
What can I do to prevent mouth cancer?
There are many steps you can take to keep your mouth and body healthy, and in return, reduce the risk of mouth cancer:
- Take good care of your teeth and gums every day, and follow the advice your dental team give you.
- Attend regular appointments and let your dental team know about any changes in your mouth.
- Cutting down on smoking and drinking, or giving them up completely will substantially lower your risk of mouth cancer.
- If you know you’re going to be out in the sun, make sure to wear a high factor sun cream and use a sun-protecting balm on your lips.
- A diet rich in Vitamins A, C and E can also provide protection against the risk of mouth cancer, along with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Lifestyle choices such as multiple sexual partners may increase your risk of being exposed to the human papilloma virus (HPV), which has been linked to mouth cancer.