The UK’s leading oral health charity, the Oral Health Foundation (OHF) has launched its mouthawareness month, which is an annual campaign to raise awareness of signs, symptoms and causes of mouth cancer. This is to ensure that we know what to do if we notice any changes inside our mouth. Mouth cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat.
Evidence based research by the OHF shows that fewer than 40% of us are able to identify the major symptoms related to mouth cancer, which includes red and white patches in the mouth, non- healing ulcers or unusual lumps and swellings.
Unfortunately the survival rates have not improved in the last 20 years. It is therefore important that we are able to recognize and act on the early warning signs to improve diagnosis and help save lives. Early diagnosis transforms a person’s chances of beating the disease from 50% to 90%. If you notice any of the warning signs of mouth cancer then visit your dentist straight away.
A great concern for the charity is the revelation that one in five people questioned said they would not seek help from a dentist if they had a mouth ulcer lasting longer than 3 weeks. The OHF also found that awareness regarding what puts us at risk of mouth cancer is frightening low. Around one in five did not associate smoking with mouth cancer whilst just under half (45%) did not think drinking alcohol to excess was linked to the disease.
More than four in five (81%) did not know that HPV was a cause of mouth cancer. HPV (the human papillomavirus) is a sexually transmitted disease and is a major cause of cervical cancer. It affects the skin that lives in the moist areas of the body. HPV can spread through oral sex. Practicing safe sex and limiting the number of partners can help reduce your chances of contacting HPV. This may also be linked to the sharp increase in the number of mouth cancers.
Protect yourself against cancer by:
- Having a good diet rich in vitamin A, C, and E . Plenty of fruit and vegetables will help the body protect itself.
- Cutting down on smoking and drinking.
- Sun protection on your lips.
- Regular visits to the dentist.
- diabetes can make it hard to control infections
- Looking out for changes in the mouth whilst brushing.
To find out more information about the signs, symptoms and causes of mouth cancer and how you can get involved in Mouth Cancer Action Month 2016 at www.mouthcancer.org. If you would like advice from a dentist please feel free to call the Mayhill Dental & Specialist Centre on 01600 712020 or www.themayhill.co.uk