Oral cancer, also called mouth cancer, is on the increase. It also has a high proportion of deaths per number of cases in the UK, far higher than other cancers such as cervical, breast or skin cancer. This is due in part to late diagnosis. The latest figures for the UK show about 2,700 deaths from oral cancer per year.
As with any type of cancer, early diagnosis vastly improves a patient’s chances of making a good recovery. But because many people don’t notice the symptoms until they become more severe, it is often diagnosed late. Because of this and because dentists are perfectly placed to spot the early signs and symptoms, at SW9 Dental we undertake oral cancer screening as a standard part of your general dental check-up. If you notice anything unusual between dental check-ups, we urge you to come and see us as soon as possible. Remember: early diagnosis saves lives.
What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth, including on the tongue, lips, gums and throat. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Ulcers that don’t heal
- Red or white patches in the mouth or in the throat
- A lump (which may or may not be painful)
- Persistent mouth pain
- Pain/difficulty swallowing food or drink
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck
- Problems with speech, or other changes to your voice
- Areas of numbness in the mouth
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Teeth that become loose for no obvious reason
- Unexplained weight loss
If you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else strange, please get in touch with us straight away.
Oral cancer screening is a short, simple process carried out here at the practice. We will carefully examine your mouth inside and outside, and will use a handheld scanning device to examine any lesions or lumps. If we do find anything suspicious we will immediately refer you to a hospital consultant for further investigation and treatment as necessary.
Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, chewing tobacco and excess alcohol consumption. We can provide you with help to stop smoking, please talk to any member of our team if you would like this support.