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What Can Cause Mouth Cancer?

Causes, Symptoms and How To Spot it Early

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What Increases My Risk of Mouth Cancer?

Age and gender affect risk, but so too do factors you can control. The best advice is simply that living healthily greatly reduces your risk.

Smoking and drinking alcohol regularly have a huge impact – in fact someone who both smokes heavily and regularly consumes more than 10 units of alcohol per week has 30 times the risk of developing mouth cancer than a non-smoker who drinks only in moderation.

Drinking more than 10 units of alcohol regularly without smoking comes close to doubling the risk of mouth cancer, while smoking without heavy drinking has a similar level of impact.

The high impact of smoking and drinking could contribute to why men have double the incidence rate of women.

Anything that leads to suboptimal oral hygiene would increase the risk of cavities and so also the associated risk of mouth cancer developing – that could be poor cleaning or diets high in sugar and low in healthier foods.

Simply eating and drinking healthily and maintaining good oral hygiene (and quitting smoking) can greatly reduce anyone’s chances of being affected.

What Are the Symptoms Of Mouth Cancer?

If you don’t know the symptoms of mouth cancer you are in good company – around a quarter cannot name any symptoms and three quarters cannot identify all the major signs.

There are five main things to look for or be aware of in relation to mouth cancer.

If you have ongoing pain in the mouth you should have it checked out. Similarly, mouth ulcers that refuse to go away and any lumps in the mouth, head or neck could be a symptom.

The final two symptoms are to look for white or red patches in the mouth.

Very few people also know that mouth cancer can be found on the tongue, or that lumps in the head or neck would be a concern.

Anything that is a concern or strikes you as unusual or painful should be checked out, after all, even if the problem is not a sign of mouth cancer it might still be a problem that is affecting oral hygiene and could lead to problems such as cavities or gum disease.

What Are The Effects Of Ignoring the Signs

A failure to spot the early signs of mouth cancer could be fatal, but even in less severe cases, the impact could be life-changing.

As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, the Oral Health Foundation collected some stories from those who have been affected by mouth cancer and the story of Paul, a 56-year-old psychotherapist, is pertinent.

Paul left it late to get concerns checked out, finally acting after finding blood in his mouth while on holiday. The failure to act was to have life-changing consequences as the cancer had spread to an extent that required parts of his tongue to be surgically removed.

“I knew something was wrong a few years ago and I just waited and waited,” Paul says.
“Had I gone years earlier when I should have, I reckon I would have more of my tongue to hold on to. If you have any doubts, go and see your dentist, please, today.”

Book Your Check-Up

If you are one of those people who go without regular check-ups, please reconsider and get a thorough check-up booked in.

At least you will leave with peace of mind (and any minor issues corrected) – knowing that your mouth has been checked for the signs of cancer.

To see oral mucosal abnormalities that might otherwise have been overlooked, our practice uses the latest technology – we use the VELscope system, a wireless, handheld scope that uses natural tissue fluorescence visualisation which takes just a few minutes to use and is non-invasive.

Do you have a specific question?

Get in touch with us today.