What is Oral cancer?
This November is Mouth Cancer Action Mouth, looking to help prevent oral cancers.
It is common for patients to not really consider the possibility of getting oral cancer. It tends to be less thought about and heard of. Most oral cancers are also painless so may not always be evident. How many of us look inside our mouths?
Oral cancer has always been on the increase and to say it “ won’t happen to me” is not ideal, Statistics have shown us that cases had risen 64% since 2007 according to the Oral Health Foundation.
How can I help protect myself?
At the Boundary Implant Centre, we simply say regular checkups and living a healthy lifestyle, stop smoking, and reduce alcohol intake to as low as possible( we are not saying don’t have a little fun)
It is well known that most patients probably think that we just look after their teeth, the fact is that we also monitor your soft tissue health in all areas of the mouth and not just those of your gums.
We have excellent skills and are here to help in the treatment and prevention of gum disease, but we also check your tongue, cheek and throat, and lymph nodes when we carry out oral examinations.
If for any reason we detect anything that we are concerned about we then refer you to the local hospital. Not all referrals show as having cancer, but it is always best to be safe over sorry. These referrals will always be seen within two weeks. The faster we act the better the outcome.
What are the causes of oral cancer?
The biggest cause of oral cancer is smoking. We cannot stress this enough. Our advice is always to stop smoking as soon as possible. If you do smoke we are here to help you stop. We can find help locally from the appropriate healthcare agents and support groups.
One thing many people are not aware of is the HPV virus has also been widely linked with oral cancer.
Please take all sensible precautions.
The vaccination should hopefully see this becoming less of a risk in the future.
Excessive drinking can also be a contributing factor. As we say the odd drink should do little harm, you should still make sure to clean your teeth well and drink water before going to sleep.
How serious can it be?
All types of cancers are serious.
Even where a problem may be localised, it can spread in the future and may affect some of the critical organs in your body.
It is no exaggeration to say that once this happens, it can often prove to be fatal. We may not hear a lot about deaths caused by mouth cancer, but it does happen, and even where it doesn’t, it can affect the sufferer in many significant life-changing ways.
Some patients can then go on to suffer from facial disfigurement either due to the tumors or the result of surgery.
It can also be others are affected by speech, chewing, and swallowing problems.
This is why the earlier it is detected, the lesser these problems are likely to be.
What are the signs to watch out for?
Areas around the mouth such as the lips and gums experience
Ulcers that don’t heal after 2-3 weeks
Any Lumps or bumps that appear or change
Swelling or thickening of the mouth, lips, gums
Unexplained changes in colour of the skin inside or around the mouth.
Bleeding or numbness that is unexplained.
Sore throats and hoarseness that last 3 weeks or more
If in doubt or you are concerned be sure to contact us 01273 418404
Here are some real-life stories