What is mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer, or oral cancer, is the presence of any cancerous growth in the oral cavity. In the earlier stages, symptoms may resemble more minor infections such as ulcers, for example. The floor of the mouth – under the tongue – is the area most commonly affected, but it can also affect the lips, tongue, gums, under the tongue itself, inside the cheeks and the roof of the mouth.
What are the early signs of mouth cancer?
- an ulcer that lingers more than 3 weeks
- an unusual lump or swelling in the mouth
- red and white patches
- changes in colour, or texture, inside your cheeks or on the surface of your tongue
If you are worried, please contact us. One appointment could save your life!
Who is most at risk of having mouth cancer?
Anyone can get oral cancer. Nearly 5,000 people in the UK are now diagnosed with the disease every year, and someone dies from it every 5 hours. Mouth cancer has become an increasingly serious problem. It affects more men than women, and most people who have it are over 40. Some habits make certain people more vulnerable than others:
- Smoking – cigars, cigarettes or pipes
- Chewing tobacco or betel nut
- Excessive drinking – over the recommended alcohol levels
- Spending excessive time in the sun, or on a sun-bed, will increase the risk for cancer, particularly cancer of the lips
How can I get checked for mouth cancer?
If you feel you have any of the danger signs outlined above, contact us straight away and ask for a free mouth cancer check. Or, if it is some time since you saw a dentist, bear in mind that our dentists perform mouth cancer screening as part of every regular dental checkup – you may prefer to book one of those instead.
What does mouth cancer screening involve?
The examination will begin with the dentist checking for anything unusual inside the mouth. The dentist may also feel the tissues inside your mouth with a gloved hand, to detect any lumps or growths that might be difficult to see. If an abnormal growth, oral infections or red or white patches are found, the dentist will investigate further. In some cases, a blue dye may be used to rinse the mouth beforehand; the blue dye usually detects the presence of abnormal cells. If abnormal cells are found, a biopsy – involving taking a tissue sample from the abnormal growth or lump – may be necessary, to confirm whether or not cancer cells are present.
Dr Amjad Malik and his team routinely screen patients for mouth cancer as part of the normal dental examination. Make sure you arrange your dental checkup every 9 months – or as often as your dentist recommends.