Mouth Cancer Action Month is a charity campaign which aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and make a difference by ensuring people get checked out early, dramatically increasing their chance of survival.
This year around 8,300 people will be given the life-changing news that they have mouth cancer. mouth cancer is one of the few cancers where numbers diagnosed are expected to rise over the next few years and 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. They may not necessarily be painful.
- Persistent discomfort or pain in your mouth – ongoing pain or discomfort in the mouth for which you cannot fix a specific cause.
- 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.
- Difficulty swallowing – Mouth cancer can cause pain or a burning sensation when chewing or swallowing food or you may feel that food is sticking in your throat. Difficulty swallowing can be associated with a number of different conditions and it is important that if you experience this that you get it checked out by a doctor or a dentist.
- Speech problems – Cancer in your mouth or throat can affect your voice. It may be quieter or sound like you have a cold. You may also have difficulty in pronouncing certain words.
- A lump in the neck – 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.
- Other symptoms – other symptoms can include but are not limited to a lump in the mouth or throat, unusual bleeding or numbness in the mouth, loose teeth for no apparent reason or difficulty moving the jaw.
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 or doctor. Survival rates over 5 years for mouth cancer when caught early are very good reaching as high as 90% however this is drastically reduced to just 50% when the diagnosis is made late.
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 Benfleet Dental Centre on 01702 557766 and book an appointment with our dentist today.