The Link Dental Surgery 11 Aylesham Way Yateley GU46 6NR

Oral Cancer Awareness Month (April 2022)


Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Unfortunately, since the start of pandemic, we have seen a rise in late presentation of patients with suspicious areas of head and neck cancers. It is of paramount importance that you contact your dental team for an assessment if you have noticed anything concerning or out of the ordinary around your head or neck.

With the above in consideration, and as April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to take a moment to share some basic, but crucial information:

oral cancer awareness monthWhat is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the mouth.

Oral cancer is divided into two types:

  1. Oral cavity cancer (which affects your lips, inside of your lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, the front two-thirds of your tongue, and the floor and roof of your mouth), and;
  2. Oropharyngeal cancer (which affects your throat) (the middle region of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue).

Early detection in either of these types may lead to better treatment outcomes, preventing you or someone you care about from becoming one of the tens of thousands of people who will succumb to the disease this year. The 5-year survival rate for people who have been diagnosed is around 60 percent.

What are the signs and symptoms?

It’s very important to have awareness of the following signs and symptoms and to book in a visit with your dentist if they persist (particular after two weeks):

  • Patches of red or white within the mouth;
  • Pain, discomfort, or numbness in the mouth or lips;
  • A lump, thickening, rough patch, crust, or small eroded region within the mouth;
  • Trouble with chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your tongue or jaw, and/or;
  • When you have a change in the way your teeth fit together.

In addition, a painful throat, a feeling that something is stuck in their throat, numbness, hoarseness, or a change in voice are all common complaints. If you, or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your dentist as soon as possible, especially if they have been present for two weeks or more.

What are the causes:

Mouth cancers originate when the DNA of cells on the lips or in the mouth undergoes mutations. The DNA of a cell includes the instructions that tell it what to do. When healthy cells perish, the mutations tell the cells to keep growing and dividing. A tumour can occur when abnormal mouth cancer cells accumulate. They may spread inside the mouth over time. The flat, thin cells (squamous cells) that line your lips and the inside of your mouth are where most mouth cancers start. Squamous cell carcinomas account for the majority of mouth malignancies. It’s unclear what causes squamous cell mutations that lead to mouth cancer. However, doctors have discovered some factors that may raise the risk of oral cancer, see below:

What are the risk factors:

Mouth cancer can be caused by a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Tobacco use in any form, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco;
  • Consuming high quantities of alcohol;
  • Lips that have been exposed to too much sunlight;
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV), and/or;
  • Immune system dysfunctions.

Are there any preventative measures:

Unfortunately there is no cure for oral mouth cancer, however you can lower your risk in many ways including the following:

  • Stop using tobacco. Tobacco use, whether smoked or chewed, exposes your mouth’s cells to harmful cancer-causing substances;
  • Consume alcohol in moderation. Excessive alcohol use might irritate your mouth’s cells, putting them vulnerable to mouth cancer. For healthy individuals, it means no more than one drink per day for women of all ages and men over 65, and no more than two drinks per day for males 65 and younger;
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips. Stay in the shade to protect the skin of your lips from the sun;
  • Maintain good oral hygiene. Make it a point to brush and floss your teeth regularly. An unhealthy mouth is a breeding ground for germs and infections. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is one of leading causes for occurrence of oral cancers. An unclean oral cavity also severely affects your immune system, and inhibits your body’s ability to fight off potential cancers, and;
  • See your dentist on a regular basis. Request that your dentist examine your entire mouth as part of a standard dental exam for atypical spots that could suggest oral cancer or precancerous alterations.

When should you see a doctor/dentist?

If you have any persistent signs and symptoms that worry you and continue longer than two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor or dentist. Your doctor would most likely look into other, more typical causes for your symptoms, such as an infection.

For more information on Oral Cancer please visit:

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