01 November 2018
Be mouth cancer aware

In the UK, more than 7,800 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer – which can affect the lips, tongue, gums or cheeks – last year and globally there are in excess of 300,000 new cases every year.

The number of people being diagnosed with mouth cancer has grown by around a third in the last decade and remains one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years.

Although risk factors (such as smoking and alcohol) are responsible for many mouth cancers, it is a disease that can affect anyone.

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, organised by the Oral Health Foundation. They stress the importance of knowing what to look out for:

  • don’t leave a mouth ulcer unattended for more than three weeks
  • don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swellings or red and white patches in your mouth
  • regularly check your own mouth, lips, cheeks, head and neck for anything out of the ordinary.

Visit www.mouthcancer.org for further details.

Last month, DJ Mark Radcliffe announced that he was taking time off from his BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music shows to have treatment for cancer: “I'm sad to say that I've got some cancerous tongue and lymph node issues,” – adding that he hopes to be back on air in the New Year, “or sooner, if I feel well enough”. He said, “It's all been caught very early and so everything should be fine.”

Facts about tongue cancer

It can either affect the oral tongue, or the base of the tongue.

Symptoms include:

  • a persistent red or white patch
  • pain when swallowing
  • unexplained bleeding
  • a sore throat that does not go away
  • a numbness in the mouth.

These symptoms could also arise from a less serious condition. According to Cancer Research UK, smoking, alcohol and infection with the HPV virus can increase the risk of contracting tongue cancer. Treatment in its early stages includes surgery to remove the cancer, and potentially a procedure to remove lymph nodes in a patient's neck.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can also be used in both early and advanced stages of the disease.

Please get in touch with the practice if you are worried about any changes in your mouth. Rob explained, “It is very rare to find mouth cancer but I can’t stress enough the need to catch it early to ensure a good prognosis. Don’t wait until your next planned appointment if you do spot anything abnormal.”

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