10 Facts Your Dentist Wishes You Knew About Mouth Cancer
Today we’d like to ask you:
“Do you know the facts about mouth cancer that could save your life?”
If not, read on because this is important.
1. Mouth Cancer is on the Increase
Over the last 20 years the number of cases of mouth cancer have increased by 97%.
7 people are dying from mouth cancer every day.
Just the other day I was speaking to a colleague who told me about her friend who had just had surgery to remove a tumour from the side of her tongue. She was only forty and she’d had no symptoms. She was fortunate that she’d gone to see her dentist and it was caught at an early stage.
In Scotland, 90% of adults say they have not seen any awareness materials on mouth cancer, according to the State of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2020/2021.
This means we have a dangerous situation. On one hand we have a disease which is increasing. On the other, awareness of what it is, what it looks like and how to seek treatment for it is very low.
Read on and share this information with your family and friends – it could save the life of someone you care about.
2. Finding Mouth Cancer Early Will Give You the Best Outcome
Finding mouth cancer early makes a huge difference. Early detection increases your chance of survival from just 50% to 90%.
This means that for people whose mouth cancer is found early, nine in every ten people will survive.
But if it is found late, then as many as five in every ten people will die.
3.Your Dentist Will Check for Mouth Cancer at Every Dental Health Check.
Every time you go to see your dentist for your dental health check your dentist will carry out a thorough mouth cancer screening.
In the past, dentists have been nervous about mentioning the “C” word to patients. I remember when I first graduated, a mouth cancer screening was always something we did but it was never talked about with the patient.
As dentists we’ve learned that it’s important that our patients become more aware of mouth cancer. By telling you what we’re looking for, it means you know what to keep an eye out for when you’re checking your own mouth on a monthly basis.
It also allows us to speak openly about risk factors and anything you can do to reduce them.
If your dentist does your dental health check and doesn’t mention mouth cancer, ask them if they’ve checked and if everything looks healthy.
The more we talk about it the better.
4. Check Your Own Mouth Regularly for Mouth Cancer – It’s Easy.
Nearly 62% of adults have never checked their mouths for signs of cancer but things can change in your mouth very quickly. Remember it is likely to be six months between your dental health checks, and in the current climate possibly even more.
So, it’s important you check your mouth yourself once a month. It takes just two minutes.Watch this video from the Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer team to find out how to check your own mouth.
5. These Are the Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer That Your Dentist Wants You To Look For
Checking your mouth regularly is just as important as checking your breasts or your testicles. Remember, your survival can increase to 90% if you find it early.
6. Ask Your Dentist How to Do a Mouth Check If You’re Not Sure.
That’s what we’re here for.
So, the next time you’re in to see us, ask us and we’ll show you how to check your own mouth.
7. Smoking Doubles Your Risk of Mouth Cancer
Smoking causes two-thirds of mouth cancers. The risk of developing mouth cancer if you are a smoker is almost double that of someone who has never smoked.
If you think you’d like to give up smoking but aren’t sure where to start, you can contact Quit Your Way the free NHS Scotland stop smoking service.
Free resources are also available at your community pharmacy.
At Coatbridge Family Dental Care our dentists are always happy to discuss ways to help you stop smoking. Please don’t hesitate to ask at your next appointment.
8. Smoking is Not The Only Cause of Mouth Cancer
You may already have known that smoking can cause mouth cancer, but did you know that regular drinkers have a two and a half times greater risk of mouth cancer than occasional and non-drinkers?
And if you both smoke and drink heavily, your risk of mouth cancer is increased by 30 times!
9. You Could Save Your Child’s Life by Having Them Vaccinated Against Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Although smoking and alcohol remain the most common causes, around one in four mouth cancers and one in three throat cancers are related to infection with HPV.
It is thought that the increase in the number of younger people suffering from throat cancer may be due to this.
This article explains how HPV can be transmitted to the mouth through oral sex.
You may have seen in the news recently that a study has shown that giving HPV vaccine to teenage girls has reduced the number of cases of cervical cancer by 90%. This is an amazing outcome. The hope is that a similar effect may be seen in the occurrence of throat cancers in young people.
And don’t forget boys should have the HPV vaccine now too!
There’s more information here about HPV vaccine.
10. Call Your Dentist If You Are Worried
If you find something in your mouth that you’re worried about, call your dental team.
Checking your mouth is our job. If there is something you are worried about we will always see you to check it. And then we can either reassure you or refer you to someone who can help.
You can read about the first time I saw mouth cancer in one of my patients here.
Blog post written 29th November 2021
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