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Signs of mouth cancer – oral cancer symptoms and causes

3rd February 2022 by

Signs of mouth cancer – Oral cancer: symptoms and causes

World Cancer Day is the time when we want to do our part and bringing awareness to this disease that took 10 million lives in 2020. This is a time to bring greater awareness of the early signs of mouth cancer, what causes it, and what you should do if you spot any symptoms.

Oral cancer is the 6th most common cancer in the world. In the UK, around 8,300 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year, which is about 1 in every 50 cancers diagnosed. This type of cancer is more common in men than women and more likely to occur in people aged over 40 years. However, Experts today are concerned about rising numbers of this cancer in younger age groups.

Our aim is to raise awareness to get mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage. As part of our fight against mouth cancer, we offer our patients mouth cancer screenings  and encourage them to discuss with our professionals any concerns they may have about the signs, factors and symptoms of oral cancer.

With the purpose of helping everyone understand more about mouth cancer, we’ve gathered the most common questions we get and the answers to them.

If after reading you have further queries or concerns, please don’t wait and contact your dentist or GP.

What is mouth or oral cancer?

Mouth cancer, or oral cancer, is where a tumour develops in a part of the mouth. These tumours can appear on the surface of the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth (palate), the lips or gums.

Tumours can also develop in the glands that produce saliva, the tonsils at the back of the mouth, and the part of the throat connecting your mouth to your windpipe (pharynx), but these are less common.

 

What are the signs of mouth cancer?

  • Mouth ulcers that do not heal
  • Swelling in your mouth
  • Red or white (or both) patches
  • Unexplained pain
  • Pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
  • White spots on gums
  • Numbness of the tongue or other areas in the mouth

 

What causes mouth cancer?

Some of the habits that can increase your risk of developing mouth cancer include:

  • Smoking or using tobacco in other ways, like chewing tobacco.
  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) – also related to genital warts
  • Poor diet
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Previous cancers and family history

 

Can a dentist spot oral mouth?

A dentist is trained and in the best position to examine for early signs of oral cancer. We use an especial LED lighting technology from the United States called OralID. OralID uses a blue light that helps the dentist identify oral cancer, pre-cancer and other abnormal lesions at an earlier stage, thus saving lives. The so called called, “fluorescence technology” is completely painless. During the examination, we dim the lights in the surgery to allow a clear view of the oral cavity. Your dentist wears special eyewear to filter out the blue light to be able to detect lesions under the surface. Lesions and other indicators of oral cancer are easily noticeable because they appear much darker under the specialized light.

We ensure that all patients have an oral exam during their routine dental visit to screen for mouth cancer. This includes a thorough head and neck examination, where we feel the tissues in the mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities and examine the tissues to check for red or white patches or mouth ulcers. All our dentists are accredited on the scheme by the mouth cancer foundation.

 

What is the treatment for mouth cancer?

Treated in its early stages, mouth cancer is curable. However, the treatment will depend on:

  • Type and size of the cancer
  • Grade and stage of the cancer (how far it has spread)
  • Your general health

If the cancer has not spread beyond the mouth or the part of your throat at the back of your mouth a complete cure may be possible using surgery alone. However, when the cancer is large or has spread to your neck, a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be required.

If you see any changes in your mouth and don’t get better after 2 weeks, you should report it to your dentist.

To learn more about our mouth cancer screening or our  8-point oral health check, give us a call at 020 7236 3600 or book an appointment.

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