Oral cancer rates have increased overall in the UK since the late 1970’s. There are likely to be several reasons for the increase, including changes in the prevalence of oral risk factors such as alcohol consumption and tobacco use.
Around 18 people a day are diagnosed with mouth cancer; it is ranked the 16th most common cancers in the UK. The prognosis is poor if this is not detected early.
Mouth cancer can develop on most parts of the mouth, including the lips, gums and occasionally, the throat.
At Smile NW Dental Practice we carry out free oral cancer checks to all our patients as we understand the importance of early diagnosis and prevention.
The most common symptoms of mouth cancer include:
- Red or white patches in the mouth or throat
- A lump
- Other symptoms may include:
- Persistent pain in the mouth
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing (dysphagia)
- Changes in your voice, or speech problems
- Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in your neck
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bleeding or numbness in the mouth
- A tooth, or teeth, that becomes loose for no obvious reason
- Difficulty moving your jaw
Many of the symptoms listed above can be caused by less serious conditions, such as minor infections.
Mouth cancer tends not to cause any noticeable symptoms during the initial stages of the disease.
This is why it is important to have regular dental check-ups, particularly if you are a smoker or a heavy drinker, because a dentist may often be able to detect the condition during an examination. Dr Morris will check under the tongue, palate and inside the cheeks.
You should have a dental check-up at least every year. However, more frequent check-ups may be recommended if you have a history of tooth decay or gum disease.