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Mouth cancer Awareness Month – November 2019

  • Mouth Cancer Action month is held in November every year in conjunction with the British Dental Health Foundation and the Mouth Cancer Foundation. In this blog Samantha Swaby looks at the signs to look out for and the importance of early detection.

    By Samantha Swaby

What is mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer includes cancer that starts anywhere in the oral cavity including lips, tongue, gums, the inside lining of the cheeks and the floor and roof of the mouth. It is also possible to develop salivary gland cancer. Contributory factors include smoking, drinking alcohol, poor diet and HPV (human papillomavirus).

Symptoms

Symptoms can include;

  • An unexplained lump in the neck that won’t go away;
  • A lump on the lip or in the mouth that will not go away;
  • Red or red and white patches in your mouth
  • Mouth ulcers that do not go away after a number of weeks;
  • Pain when chewing or swallowing
  • Chronic sore throat

Dentist

Many dentists routinely check for mouth cancer and are therefore often the first to identify cancer of the mouth in their patients. Additionally, if your GP suspects oral cancer then they should consider an urgent referral to a dentist for further checks.

However, as with all health issues, self responsibility plays a vital role in early detection. People should report any changes in their mouths to their GP or dentist. This is especially important if you smoke and drink heavily. Regular dental check ups, which should be at least yearly, even in people with false teeth are essential.

Early detection and treatment

The earlier mouth cancer is diagnosed, the earlier that appropriate treatment can commence and therefore gives the patient a better chance at a good outcome.

Once diagnosed, treatment of mouth cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The exact management will depend on the size and location of the mouth cancer and the stage at which it is detected.

As the condition develops, treatment options become more extreme, such as involving more toxic treatments, radical surgery and increased associated symptoms. As such, the

importance of seeking early advice can not be emphasised enough, even where the symptoms may seem apparently minor.

Summary

Raising awareness of mouth cancer is very important to ensure that everyone is aware of the signs and symptoms and can seek out the appropriate treatment if necessary

If you are concerned that you may have received a negligent or delayed diagnosis of mouth cancer, please contact a member of the Dental Negligence Team, who will be happy to advise you on your particular circumstances.

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