As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month November 2019, the Oral Health Foundation is encouraging people to wear blue lips as a sign of support for mouth cancer awareness; causes and symptoms. Despite this bit of fun, there is a serious message at the heart of the campaign.
Over the last year, 8,337 people in the UK were given the life-changing news that they have mouth cancer. According to the Oral Health Foundation, up to 90% of all mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors. This means that with a few small changes, you can help cut your chances of developing mouth cancer.
What can cause mouth cancer?
Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol.
• Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are the main forms of tobacco use in many parts of the world. However, the traditional habits in some cultures of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly dangerous.
• Alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are taken together the risk is even greater.
• Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.
• Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body.
What are the signs of mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips such as;
• Mouth cancer can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally.
• A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer.
• Be aware of any unusual lumps in your mouth or jaw area and any persistent hoarseness.
It is important to visit your dental team if these areas do not heal within three weeks.
Visual mouth cancer checks are conducted by your dentist and hygienist during your routine appointments. In addition, be aware of what is going on in your mouth and examine yourself regularly.
During Mouth Cancer Action Month, the message is 'if in doubt, get it checked out'. We encourage everybody to be mouthaware and pay close attention to what is going on inside the mouth. If in doubt, make an appointment with your dentist.
With early diagnosis, the chances of surviving mouth cancer are nine out of ten – those odds are pretty good, and that’s why knowing what to look out for is so important.