Dr Ben Atkins BDS



Dr Ben Atkins BDS

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Treatment & Care

Oral Cancer – we have to raise awareness

5th December 2017

Oral Cancer is a killer. Make no mistake, it is every bit as lethal as all the other cancers that we contract. However, public awareness about mouth cancer is much lower than for other cancers.

Every year, the Oral Health Foundation designates November as Mouth Cancer Action Month. Throughout last month, dentists across the country, campaigned and talked about Oral Cancer.

My contribution is the production of this video discussing this awful disease

Everyone can be affected by mouth cancer. However, it is more common in people over 40, particularly men. But recent research shows that oral cancer is symptoms are increasing in younger men and in women. In the last 12 months, more than 7,000 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK. This is an increase of more than a third compared to a decade ago.

Tragically, over 1,800 people lose their life to mouth cancer, in Britain, every year. Many of these deaths can be prevented if the cancer is caught early enough. Alarmingly, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.

What can cause oral 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 the UK. However, the traditional ethnic habits of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly dangerous.

Also, alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer. If tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is even greater. Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.

Mouth cancer is also linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body. HPV is spread through oral sex, so the advice is to practice safe sex and limit the number of partners you have.

Take the 45 second mouth cancer check

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.

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, as can any unusual lumps or swellings. It is important to visit your dentist if these areas do not heal within three weeks.

But oral / mouth cancer can be spotted in its early stages by your dentist during a thorough mouth examination. If mouth cancer is spotted early, then the chances of a cure are good.  However, too many people come forward too late, because they do not visit their dentist for regular examinations.

For more information,  read Oral Cancer Guide 2017