Mouth cancer is one of the few cancers set to see an increase in the rate of diagnosis over the coming years. Mouth cancer can affect anyone whether you have your own teeth or not. It is more common in men over 40 but it is becoming more common in younger patients and women.
Sadly more than 1,800 people lose their lives to mouth cancer in the UK. However, many of these deaths are preventable if the cancer is caught early.
Mouth cancer screening is a simple procedure performed at the dental practice every time that you attend for your routine dental appointment. The dentist examines the inside of your mouth and your tongue with the help of a small mirror.
If your dentist finds something unusual they will refer you to a consultant at the local hospital, who will carry out a thorough examination of your mouth and throat. A small sample of the cells may be gathered from the area (a biopsy), and these cells will be examined under the microscope to see what is wrong.
If the cells are cancerous, more tests will be carried out. These may include overall health checks, blood tests, x-rays or scans. These tests will decide what course of treatment is needed.
If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are good, and the smaller the area or ulcer the better the chance of a cure.
It is important that if you notice any changes in your mouth, have ulcers that do not heal or any unusual lumps of swellings that you get them checked out!