Mouth Cancer Screening

Mouth cancer can form on the surface of the tongue, lips, mouth and gums. It is sometimes referred to as oral cancer and in rare instances can form in the salivary glands and the tonsils.

There are a few symptoms that can suggest mouth cancer, these include; ulcers that do not heal after two weeks, pain or discomfort in your mouth, red or white patches in the mouth and lumps in the neck.

The causes of oral cancer vary from person to person. People who brush only once a day or less are more likely to develop mouth cancer than those who brush more than twice. Alcohol and tobacco products also greatly increase your chances of developing oral cancer. Poor diet, viruses such as Human Papaloma Virus (HPV), tobacco chewing, paan used in some Asian cultures and sun exposure can also increase your risk of mouth cancer, as well as a variety of other forms of cancer. Sometimes cancer has a genetic risk factor element or can occur without any risk factors. More and more evidence is showing a healthy balanced diet can reduce your risks of developing cancers.

Many people suffer from none, one or possibly more of these symptoms, therefore the best and most effective way to catch mouth cancer is through mouth cancer screening.

What is Mouth Cancer Screening?

Screening is simply another word for testing people for the early signs of cancer. There is currently no national screening programme in the UK as this type of cancer is relatively uncommon. However, those in the higher risk groups are recommended to be screened regularly to ensure they do not develop cancer. There is not much to the screening process and it does not involve any surgery. During your examinations at the practice your dentist will check outside and inside your mouth for signs. We look and feel for I lumps on your neck, below the chin and below yours ears. Inside the mouth we look for red or white patches and anything which does not look normal. Mouth cancer is still relatively rare in this country. However it is a serious and quite an aggressive form of cancer, so early detection and treatment can greatly increase survival rates.

All trained dentists in the UK spend many hours during their degree course studying oral cancers, especially learning how to detect cancers and people at risk. After qualification dentists attend regular post qualification courses reinforcing this knowledge, learning about new developments and treatments.

Is There Anything I Can Do?

There are things you can do before and after you are screened. Attending your dentist at least twice a year and also checking for changes in your oral region at home will help reduce the chances of missing any signs. If you do have any of these symptoms or are in a higher risk group, then screening could be the best option to ensure you avoid developing this aggressive form of cancer. Everyone should try to cut down smoking and alcohol intake and eat a balanced diet.

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