Q. ONE of my friends was recently diagnosed with mouth cancer. How do I know whether I’m safe or not?
A. Mouth cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, but isn’t as common in the UK. Out of all the cancers that are diagnosed in the UK every year, less than three per cent are related to mouth cancer.
It is more common in adults over the age of 50 although it can affect adults under the age of 50, too. Some of the symptoms include white or red patches on the inside of your mouth, mysterious lumps in the mouth that stay for a while, or if you have a mouth ulcer that doesn’t heal within a few weeks.
Mouth cancer cases are usually linked to excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol. All forms of tobacco, whether it’s smoking a cigarette or pipe, or through chewing tobacco are particularly dangerous. Consuming excessive alcohol can also increase the risk of getting mouth cancer. More recently, there are cases of mouth cancer linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be spread through unsafe oral sex.
To protect yourself from any symptoms and dangers of mouth cancer, I highly recommend being aware of what goes on in your mouth and just to look out for any unexplained lumps or patches. Stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption will also be of great benefit as well as ensuring you’re eating a healthy diet.
Having regular check-ups with your dentist will also help to ensure that any symptoms of mouth cancer are identified early and have a better chance of being cured.