Here at Adrian Mullish Dental Care we pride ourselves on the strong emphasis we place on delivering long-lasting, compassionate care, with a focus on preventing dental disease and maintaining healthy teeth and mouth. That’s why we are very happy to play our part in supporting Mouth Cancer Action Month by raising awareness about the dangers of mouth cancer and helping people to understand the causes and symptoms.
Mouth cancer in numbers
The latest statistics indicate that as many as 8,300 people-a-year in the UK are now diagnosed with mouth cancer. This represents a 49% increase in the last ten years alone and 135% compared with 20 years ago. Unlike most other types of cancers, mouth cancer is not showing any signs of decline and instead looks like it will continue to increase in the future.
How serious is mouth cancer?
Figures released by the Oral Health Foundation and Simplyhealth Professionals to coincide with this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month reveal that 2,722 Brits sadly lost their lives to mouth cancer in 2017. The 10-year survival rate for those diagnosed with the disease is between 19% and 58%, depending on where the cancer strikes and how early it is identified.
The need to promote awareness
This year’s research also discovered that there was a concerning lack of awareness when it comes to mouth cancer, including the public’s understanding of the main risk factors, signs and symptoms:
- Just under half (45%) of British adults admitted to not having any understanding about mouth cancer.
- Three in four (75%) said they did not know the symptoms
- More than four in five (82%) did not know where mouth cancer appears.
Clearly the life saving message of Mouth Cancer Action Month has never been more important.
What are the main causes of mouth cancer?
Like most types of cancer, smoking and drinking alcohol to excess are the biggest risk factors. Many cases are also thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet and a lack of vitamins and minerals. Another increasingly common cause of mouth cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is now known to be transmitted through oral sex. Another significant cause of mouth cancer is poor diet.
Although lifestyle factors may increase the risk, it is important to be aware that mouth cancer can affect anybody, meaning it is vitally important to recognise the symptoms.
What if I have dental implants?
Mouth cancer can affect you even if you do not have any of your natural teeth.
There is no evidence, however, to suggest that dental implants are in any way associated with a higher risk of mouth cancer. Although there have been limited studies, in depth research conducted in 2012 by the US National Institute of Health found no correlation between implant surgery and cancer. The materials used and the treatment itself are completely safe and do not pose any additional risk – and may actually help to reduce the risk by improving oral hygiene.
Symptoms of mouth cancer
The most important early warning signs of mouth cancer that people should look out for are:
- mouth ulcers that last longer than three weeks
- red or white patches
- unusual lumps and swellings
Mouth cancer can affect not only the mouth but also the lips head and neck – so be sure to look out for anything unusual in these areas too. If you do find something you are concerned about, it is important that you get an examination by a dentist as soon as possible.
Dental checkups for extra protection
One of the best ways to ensure that mouth cancer can be spotted, diagnosed and treated at the earliest possible stage is to ensure you have a regular dental examination.
It may not always be easy to see symptoms yourself, depending where they occur, and some are not easy to distinguish for the untrained eye – especially in the early stages. Dentists are trained in what to look for, and will check for any symptoms of mouth cancer as part of your regular examination any time they see you. Seeing your dentist regularly will give you the extra peace of mind of knowing that everything is in order.
If you have any questions or concerns about mouth cancer or would like to book an appointment, call today on 01923 231861.