November Is Mouth Cancer Action Month and part of this awareness campaign is early detection and prompt referral for treatment but also highlighting how to reduce risk factors for oral cancer.
Did you know that at each oral health assessment with your dentist, they will assess at least 25 separate issues/things in your mouth? One of these, is an oral cancer screening. Every aspect of your mouth and throat will be scrutinised for signs of anything unusual that might require further investigation. Dental hygienists at their appointments will also be doing a cancer screen and will flag up anything of concern. So, please be assured your dental team at the Old Surgery Dental Practice are doing their upmost to look after you.
In the UK, one in 52 males and 1 in 108 females will be diagnosed with oral cancer in their lifetime. Most of these are largely preventable and early detection greatly improves survival rates.
What Can I Do?
All the oral cancer charities now encourage people to do regular self-checks as well as dental examinations at the dental practice. This is so you become familiar with what is normal for you and assist you in identifying any changes which may indicate a lesion that requires attention.
What should I look for?
Any new lumps or bumps that don’t subside after a few days.
Any red, white or ulcerated patches that don’t heal.
Where should I look?
It’s important to assess all your mouth, so remember to look under your tongue on the floor of your mouth, palate, lips cheeks and side of tongue but also to check your throat by depressing your tongue with something like a spoon and saying aaahhh. These are common sites for oral cancer.
Please visit https://hncf.org.uk/mouth-check for more details.
If you find something that concerns you, please don’t feel you have to wait until your next routine appointment. Please ring the practice with your concerns and request an appointment as soon as possible.
Last year, oral cancer was diagnosed in 8,337 people in the UK alone and unfortunately mouth cancer is on the increase. There are many things we can do to reduce our risk:
- Quit tobacco
- Cut down or quit alcohol particularly spirits
- Avoid oral sex or consider getting a vaccination
- Avoid sunbeds and burning in the sun
- Visit the dental practice regularly for oral checks. Cancers caught early are much easier to treat
- By eliminating tobacco and reducing alcohol your risk for oral cancer becomes similar to that of any other non-smoker/drinker.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the leading cause of oropharyngeal (back of mouth and throat) cancer. There are over 100 strains of HPV and only a small number are associated with oropharyngeal cancer; in particular HPV16 and HPV18. This is the strain that young people are currently being vaccinated against in the UK as part of the childhood vaccination programme.
Over exposure of ultraviolet radiation can cause cancer of the skin, including lips which are often exposed to the radiation from the sun
There is evidence that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help to protect us from cancer. So, a diet high in fibre, fresh fruit, vegetables and omega 3 can reduce our risk of developing many cancers.
90% of all oral cancers are affected by lifestyle which means small changes can reduce the risk significantly. Here at the Old Surgery Dental Practice, we are here to help and are happy to discuss any concerns you may have.