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What is Oral or Mouth Cancer?
Most people know about cancers that affect different parts of the body such as breast or lung. Cancer can appear in the mouth as well, where it can affect the tongue, lips, throat and cheeks.
Who might get oral cancer?
Anyone can be affected by oral cancer whether or not they have their own teeth. This type of cancer more commonly affects men over 40 but is becoming more common in women and in younger patients. In statistics for oral cancer incidence it is ranked worldwide as the 11th most common cancer. In some countries chewing tobacco can give rise to increased numbers of oral cancers, in India in particular. In he UK over the last ten years the figures for oral cancer have increased by over half.
Can you die from oral cancer?
Yes. Every year in the UK about 2000 people die from this cancer. Early diagnosis would prevent many of these deaths.
What causes mouth cancer?
Most cases of oral cancer are attributable to alcohol and smoking.The smoking of cigarettes and cigars and pipes can increase the risk as well as the chewing of tobacco. Alcohol increases the risk as well and smoking and drinking together also makes the risk increase. Exposure to the sun can give rise to lip cancers. Recent reports have linked oral cancers to the human papillomavirus that is the main cause of cervical cancer and is a cancer that affect the skin in moist areas of the body.This virus will be spread by oral sex and is now set to rival the more common causes of oral cancer, smoking and alcohol. There are now vaccinations against this virus that are given to boys and girls at age 12-13 before sexual activity starts. Although the vaccine was developed to combat cervical cancer it can also prevent mouth cancers.
What are the symptoms of mouth cancer?
There are several symptoms depending on what part of the mouth the cancer is affecting. It could be:
- A painless mouth ulcer that does not heal
- A white or red patch in the mouth
- Unusual lumps in the mouth or jaw area
- Hoarsenessthat persists
If you have any of these symptoms then you should see your doctor or dentist and if you are unsure, go anyway to get checked.
How can this kind of caner be picked up early?
Having regular dental checks ups is a great way of ensuring that if any problem is brewing your dental team will be able to spot it early. If it is caught early then there is a great chance of a cure.
What could I do at home?
Always be aware of what is going on in your mouth. Know what is normal for you and act quickly if you notice anything unusual.
How will the dentist carry out a full mouth examination?
Your dentist will examine the inside of the mouth and the tongue with a small mirror and he or she will also look at the neck and the underside of the jaw. This is all part of a regular check up and will highlight areas of your mouth that it is difficult for you to see by yourself.
If my dentist does find a problem what will happen next?
If anything is found you will be referred to a hospital consultant for a full examination and possibly a biopsy to find out what is wrong.
What will happen next?
If the tests do prove positive for cancer then more tests will be done and a treatment plan devised according to the results.
Is it possible to cure mouth cancer?
If the cancer is spotted early then there is a very good chance of a complete cure. However the problem is often that people come forward too late because they do not have regular mouth examinations
What should I do to make sure my mouth stays healthy?
Stop smoking, and cut down on alcohol and also eat a balanced, healthy diet with fruit and vegetables. This will also help protect you against other cancers. Visit your dental team as often as they recommend you to.
Dentists Near Me will help you find a dental professional at a location convenient to you who will be able to answer any questions you have on oral cancers.