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What Do You Know About Mouth Cancer?

You’ve probably all been affected by a family member or friend who has suffered from some form of cancer, perhaps breast or prostrate cancer, but less mention is made of mouth cancer. The thing is, mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is on the rise and in the UK (in 2011) slightly more than 6,767 cases were diagnosed. As with most cancers, early detection hugely improves the chance of recovery. As a dentist in Southend we practice preventative dentistry as we firmly believe that prevention is better than cure. As a result we recommend that our patients have mouth cancer screening at least once a year and this can be carried out at our dental practice.

What is mouth cancer?

mouth cancer screeningMouth cancer is a tumour which develops on the surface of the gums, lips, mouth, or tongue. Less common are tumours which are found in the tonsils and salivary glands.

What are the symptoms ?

  • Long term ulcers
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Unusual lumps in the mouth or jaw and a persistent hoarseness

If any of these symptoms don’t clear up within 3 weeks then you should always pay your doctor or Southend dentist a visit, particularly if you’re a heavy smoker or drinker.

Who can get mouth cancer?

Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer regardless of whether they have their own teeth or not. It’s more common in people over the age of 40 and more predominant in men. However, it is becoming more common among younger people and particularly women.

Can people die from mouth cancer?

Unfortunately, yes. Almost 2,000 people in the UK die every year from mouth cancer.

What’s the cause of mouth cancer?

In most cases of mouth cancer the cause is often linked to alcohol or tobacco and too much exposure to the sun can also increase the chances of a person getting cancer of their lips. Recent research has also linked mouth cancer to the HPV virus (which is the main cause of cervical cancer) which can be spread through oral sex and worryingly, it’s been suggested that this may soon overtake alcohol and tobacco as the main cause of mouth cancer. Limiting sexual partners and practising safe sex can reduce any chances of getting HPV.

Your dentist in Southend will carry out an examination of your mouth and tongue during a routine check-up but it’s also advisable to book an annual mouth cancer screening. This is just a short procedure and involves the use of a hand held scanning devise which can be used to examine any lesions or lumps you may have. You can also be vigilant at home by always being aware of what is going on in your mouth. If there are any sores, lumps, or long term ulcers then get them checked out. They’re probably not serious but early detection could save your life.

For your peace of mind we urge you to book a mouth cancer screening, especially if you smoke. Call Southend Dental Care today on 01702 465000 or contact us online at www.southenddentalcare.co.uk. If you’re looking for an evening and weekend dentist then we’re open until 8pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as 9.00 until 1.00pm on Saturdays.

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