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With Mouth Cancer Action Month recently coming to an end, we thought it would be apt to have a round up of the causes, symptoms and treatments of mouth cancer. The campaign aimed to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an earlier stage by increasing the education surrounding it along with the risks, signs and symptoms while encouraging everybody to discuss them with their dentist. A survey conducted for the campaign found that only 1% of people knew how to self-examine for the disease.
Mouth Cancer is a disease that has growing cases every year, meaning that now one in seven of us may know someone affected by this disease. Mouth cancer cases are close to reaching 7,000 with over 2,000 deaths each year in the UK which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined, which is why it is so important to be aware of this disease. Early detection of the disease can give someone nearly 90% chance of recovery and survival, if left untreated someones chance can drop to as low as 50%. The disease has grown by a third in the last decade and is predicted to continue growing. Mouth cancer can affect anybody although there are certain factors, like smoking, that are heavily linked to this disease.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with this disease include, an ulcer that has not healed after 3 weeks, an unexplained pain in your mouth or ear or an unusual lump or swelling. Another common symptom that can sometimes cause confusion is red or white patches in the mouth or throat (Whilst these patches are not cancer they can lead to cancer if left untreated. Sometimes Thrush can also cause similar symptoms, if using anti fungal treatment cures these patches they are unlikely to be caused by cancer). Some other symptoms may include a sore of painful throat, a croaky or strained voice or difficulty swallowing (Mouth cancer can cause pain or a burning sensation when chewing or swallowing). Signs and symptoms of mouth cancer are often not painful and can often be related to other less serious illnesses, therefore making them relatively hard to spot. If you have had any of these symptoms for 3 weeks or more, we would urge you to visit your doctor or dentist for a check up.
There are also things that you can do to reduce your risk of mouth cancer, including, not smoking, drinking less alcohol and having a consistent and healthy diet.