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Mouth Cancer Action Month is an annual charity campaign. It aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and save lives by promoting the values of prevention and early detection. The campaign is about making everybody more mouth aware. Throughout November, dentists and other healthcare professionals are supporting the campaign by highlighting the risk factors and signs and symptoms associated with the disease.
By making sure people understand the causes of mouth cancer and recognise the early warning signs, we can encourage healthier lifestyles and reduce the number of people diagnosed with the disease.
In the UK, more than 8,300 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year. Globally, there are in excess of 300,000 new cases every year. The number of people being diagnosed with mouth cancer has grown by around a third in the last decade. This makes it one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years.
Mouth cancer is now the eleventh most common cancer worldwide. Although risk factors (such as smoking and alcohol) are responsible for many mouth cancers, it is a disease that can affect anyone at any time – and this is one of the reasons it is so important to always be on the lookout for signs and symptoms.
Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women.
Many recent reports have also linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body. HPV can be spread through oral sex, and research now suggests that HPV could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer.
Sadly, more than 2,300 people in the UK are dying from mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was diagnosed early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.
Mouth Cancer Action Month aims to change that by helping raise awareness across the UK.
Key warning signs to look out for are:
Remember, mouth cancer can occur in many different places, so you should regularly check your own mouth, lips, cheeks, head and neck for anything out of the ordinary. If you notice anything you are not happy with, don’t hesitate. Book an appointment with a dentist or doctor. Quick action is very often life-saving.
All dentists are now trained to recognise the early warning signs of mouth cancer, and because of their experience are often able to spot symptoms before they become visible to the untrained eye. They can also see parts of the mouth that may be difficult for you to check yourself. Your dentist will check for signs of mouth cancer as part of your routine dental examination. Ensuring that you see your dentist regularly is one of the best ways to ensure that any suspicious signs are picked up as early as possible, giving you the best possible chance for successful treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns about mouth cancer, or would like to book a dental examination today, don’t hesitate to call us on 01709 543033.