Due to our changing life styles in the UK oral cancer cases are on the increase. This can be attributed to several factors, the primary ones being smoking (up to 30% of oral cancers is attributed to tobacco smoking ref: cancer research UK, 2010) and the increase of alcohol consumption. Both of these factors combined increase the risks significantly.
The most common form of cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, originating in the cells that line the mouth and lips. Oral cancer most commonly involves the tissue of the lips or tongue. It may also occur on the floor of the mouth, cheek lining, Gingiva or plate.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
◙ A visible lump or mass that may or may not be painful
◙ Bleeding from either of the above
◙ An ulcer that will not heal
◙ A persistent blood blister
◙ Loss of sensation anywhere in the mouth
◙ Difficulty in swallowing
◙ Impaired in tongue mobility
◙ Difficulty in moving the jaw
◙ Speech changes, such as slurring or lack of clarity
◙ Lose teeth and ore sore gums
◙ Altered taste
◙ swollen lymph glands
Bearing this in mind, it is extremely important to visit the dentist regularly at least every six months for routine examinations. Part of the examination involves an oral cancer screen where the dentist will examine the soft tissue of the mouth (cheeks, lips and gums) as well as the hard tissue (teeth). Dentists are trained to identify and refer patients whom they feel are at risk or have any symptoms they feel need closer investigation.