Cancer of the mouth is an abnormal growth - potentially very dangerous - which may affect any part of the mouth.
What should I look for?
Mouth cancer can manifest as:
- An ulcer (often completely painless) which fails to recede or disappear after two weeks or so.
- A swelling or noticeable growth which has been in the mouth for more than two weeks.
- White or red patches inside the mouth.
- If you have any of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have mouth cancer. However, all symptoms must be immediately investigated by your NHS Fulham dentist.
Who is at risk of mouth cancer?
- Drinking alcohol and chewing or smoking tobacco both increase your risk of getting mouth cancer.
- Skin and lip cancer can have its likelihood increased by prolonged sunlight exposure.
- People over 40 are more susceptible, but it can affect those younger, too.
- Those who don’t follow a healthy diet.
- Sufferers of chronic illnesses like syphilis or candidosis.
What should I do to reduce the risk?
- Read and adhere to the advice in the “Who is at risk of mouth cancer” section.
- Have regular checkups at your Fulham NHS dental practice. Dentists can detect issues early, meaning a higher chance or recovery. Furthermore, your dentist can refer you to a specialist, or monitor any changes.
- Keep alcohol intake below a certain limit. This means under 14 units per week for women, and under 21 units per week for men.
- Make sure you get your ‘5 a day’.
- If you are a smoker, get advice from your doctor regarding quitting.
- You can find a ‘7 point self screening’ leaflet at the reception of your NHS Fulham dentist.
If a suspect lesion has been identified, your dentist will refer you to an oral health specialist to make further tests. There are several methods for removing mouth cancer, and techniques are improving all the time. These include tumour excision (complete removal), cryotherapy (freezing treatments), and chemotherapy and radiotherapy. All treatments will be tailored to fit your specific needs.