What is Mouth Cancer?

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

Cancer can also occur in the mouth, where the disease can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. Sadly, anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have  teeth or not. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women. Over the last year a staggering 6,767 people have been diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK – which is an increase of more than a third compared to only a decade ago.



Even more sadly, more than 1,800 people in the UK lose their life to mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could have  be prevented if the cancer had been caught early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those  having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.


What Can Cause Mouth Cancer?

Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are the main forms of tobacco  use in the UK. However, the traditional ethnic habits of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly  dangerous.


Alcohol consumption also increases the risk of mouth cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is  even greater. Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.


Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer  and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body. HPV can be spread through oral sex, and research now suggests  that it could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer. Practicing safe sex and limiting the  number of partners you have may help reduce your chances of contracting HPV.


What are the signs of mouth cancer?


Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. Mouth cancer can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer. It is important to visit your dentist if these areas do not heal within three weeks.

How can mouth cancer be detected early?

Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by your dentist during a thorough mouth examination. If mouth cancer is recognised early, then the chances of a cure are good.  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.


However, too many people come forward too late, because they do not visit their dentist for regular examinations.


If you would like to find out more information on mouth cancer or are worried please contact Belmore Dental Implant Clinic on 02866 329222 and we willgladly arrange an appointment for you with on of our dental team. You can contact us by calling 02866 329222, emailing info@belmoredental.co.uk or by clicking the contact us link on our website www.belmoredental.co.uk.

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