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  • Writer's pictureEdward Gayton

Mouth Cancer Awareness Month

You may already be aware, but the month of November has been decreed to be 'Mouth Cancer Action Month' and so I thought I'd write a bit about it to spread the word. You can also find out a little about what we're doing on our Facebook page here.

Mercifully we don't see a lot of mouth cancer in practice, but every examination we do includes a check of the soft tissues of the mouth to make sure there are no worrying signs. Worldwide mouth cancer affects 650,000 people per year though, and the incidence has risen by 49% over the last 10 years so it's definitely something to be aware of. It's also worth remembering that although there are risk factors associated with it, 25% of cases appear with no associated risk factors.

We know that the following can be risk factors for mouth cancer so minimising them is sensible

  • Tobacco - users are 6 times more likely to develop head and neck cancer

  • Alcohol - drinking to excess can increase the risk by up to 4 times.

  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is an increasing cause of mouth cancer and can be transmitted through oral sex.

  • Poor diet - linked to a third of all mouth cancer cases.

It's important to be aware of some of the ways that mouth cancer can present, and get checked out by your dentist if you have any worries. These can include

  • Ulcers that do not heal within 3 weeks

  • Lumps and swellings of no obvious cause in the mouth or neck

  • Red or white patches inside the mouth

  • Changes in texture; hardness, roughness

  • Persistent hoarseness or changes to the voice

  • Numbness or tingling of the lips or tongue

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Dentures that suddenly stop fitting properly

Please remember that most of these things will not be mouth cancer but please get them checked out.

A fuller version of some of the things I've been saying here can be found at but I hope this has been helpful.

Ed Gayton

Rose Cottage Dental Practice

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