Oral Cancer Awareness
Oral Cancer, often referred to as 'Mouth Cancer,' is a type of cancer that can potentially impact various regions within the mouth, such as the back of the throat, gums, tongue, cheeks, or lips. The significance of early detection cannot be overstated, as it significantly influences positive treatment outcomes. In the United Kingdom, Oral Cancer stands as one of the most prevalent cancers, with approximately 34 new cases diagnosed daily. The 'blue lips' selfie is to help raise awareness of oral cancer
Understanding the Causes and Early Detection of Oral Cancer
Oral Cancer, a concerning and potentially life-threatening condition, can arise due to various factors. Understanding these causes is crucial for both prevention and early detection:
1. Tobacco and Alcohol: The consumption of tobacco in any form—cigarettes, pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or snuff—poses a substantial risk for Oral Cancer. Combining this with heavy alcohol intake further escalates the likelihood of developing this condition.
2. HPV (Human Papillomavirus): Certain strains of HPV, transmitted through sexual contact, have been associated with an increased risk of Oral Cancer.
3. Age: As age advances, the risk of Oral Cancer rises significantly, with a notable majority of cases diagnosed between the ages of 66 and 70.
4. Sun Exposure: Prolonged exposure to the sun can contribute to Lip Cancer.
5. Poor Nutrition: A diet lacking in essential nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, coupled with high consumption of processed foods, is linked to an elevated risk of oral cancer.
6. Genetics: Inherited genetic defects can predispose individuals to a higher risk of mouth and middle throat cancers.
Recognising the Signs
Regular oral health assessments and hygiene visits at Your Smile Clinic are essential for spotting early oral cancer. During these check-ups, Dr. Angela, Dr. Surbin and our Dental Therapists Nia & Iman routinely screen for signs of oral cancer.
Additionally, self-checks at home can aid in early detection. This involves inspecting your mouth often for any irregularities. This is particularly important for individuals who smoke, use tobacco products, or consume alcohol regularly. See picture below for a detailed guide on how to do a self check at home!
Look out for these symptoms:
Red or white patches in the mouth
Mouth ulcers persisting for more than three weeks
Unusual lumps inside the mouth or on the lips
Pain or bleeding in the oral cavity
Difficulty swallowing or speaking
Persistent sore throat or hoarseness
Neck or throat lumps
Unexplained weight loss
Numbness in the tongue or other mouth areas
Swelling of the jaw
Diagnosis and Early Detection
Early detection is pivotal as oral cancer can progress rapidly. Routine oral cancer examinations are painless and brief - they are conducted during regular dental check-ups and hygiene visits. This is why it is so crucial to attend your dental check ups regularly. During the examination, your dentist assesses various areas for potential signs of cancer, such as red or white patches. Additional tests, including biopsies, imaging or referrals may be recommended for a more comprehensive analysis.
Reducing Risk - Preventing oral cancer involves proactive measures:
Regular dental check-ups
Avoidance of tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption
Minimising UV light exposure and using SPF-containing lip balms
Consideration of the HPV vaccine
Maintaining a healthy weight and nutritious diet
Staying vigilant and proactive about oral health significantly contributes to reducing the risk of Oral Cancer while promoting overall well-being.