Mouth cancer is one of the few cancers in the UK which has seen cases rise in recent years and this is expected to continue in the coming years. However, with early diagnosis, nine in ten people can survive mouth cancer.
This year in the UK, around 8,800 people will be given the life changing news that they have mouth cancer. With these numbers expected to rise in the coming years, the disease already claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined.
Although there are a number of risk factors that will increase your chance of developing the disease, mouth cancer can affect anyone. This is why it is so important to know the signs to look out for.
Symptoms to get checked out
Ulcers that do not heal
A broken area of skin or ulcer that does not heal within three weeks is one of the two most common symptoms of mouth cancer. They may not necessarily be painful.
White or red patches in your mouth or throat
An abnormal looking patch in your mouth or throat can be a sign or cancer of precancerous changes in the cells. Areas of abnormal cells may look white or red. These patches are not cancer, but if left untreated can lead to cancer developing.
A white or red patch in the mouth can also be caused by fungal infections such as thrush. The white patches of thrush usually rub away to leave a sore red patch underneath. If this is the case your dentist will prescribe an anti-fungal treatment and if the patches go away, they are not related to cancer.
Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area
You may find you have a lump in your neck caused by an enlarged lymph node. These can be caused by a number of different conditions. For example, a hot, red painful lump is often a sign of infection, lumps that come and go are also unlikely to be cancerous. Cancerous lumps will normally start small and grow over time.
Many of these symptoms can be related to other less serious conditions but it is important that if you experience any of the above that you get it checked out by your dentist. The ten-year survival rate is between 18% and 57%, depending on where the cancer strikes and how early it is diagnosed.
So, if in doubt get it checked out!
If you are worried or would like further information on mouth cancer and the risks please visit the Mouth Cancer Action Month website or call College Dental Surgeries today on 01622 752340 to book a consultation where our team will be happy to help.