(Copy of oral cancer photographs?)
What is Mouth Cancer?
Oral cancers of the mouth are aggressive growths that can
invade the tongue, roof of the mouth and spread elsewhere
in the body.
Is it very common?
Unfortunately oral cancer is not rare. In the UK there are
about 3800 new cases and around 1700 deaths. In the U.S it
accounts for 2 % of all cancer deaths. It is slightly more
common in men and mainly affects older people although patients
in their teens and twenties have been diagnosed.
What are the causes?
Oral cancer is rare in non-smokers. Tobacco, smoked or chewed
is nearly always implicated in oral cancer. Heavy smoking
and drinking together increase the risk hugely. Other habits
associated mainly with the Asian community; such as Betel
nut chewing and bidi smoking are also highly carcinogenic.
As with all cancers, there will always be the rare but unfortunate
individuals who indulge is none of these habits and still
develop the disease, this is likely to represent a genetic
susceptibility to the disease.
Cancer of the lips may be caused by sunburn and excessive
sun exposure in the same way as other skin cancers.
I am concerned, what can I do?
Most cancers occur above the age of forty. Alcohol and Tobacco
is implicated in most oral cancers. Prevention involves stopping
smoking and giving up heavy drinking.
However, recent studies have indicated that all persons can
develop mouth cancer. Healthy, young, non-smokers should not
Early detection is probably the single most important factor.
You must have your mouth examined routinely. Any suspicious
change should be reported.
I am concerned, what can the dentist do?
Dentists have special training to identify conditions in the
mouth. The visual exam is still one of the most reliable means
of prevention. During the regular examinations of the mouth,
we will check for any suspicious lesions. It is our job to
refer all patients with suspicious lesions to a hospital for
DENTAL CLINIQUE will carry out a cancer check on all patients.
We have designed a special protocol to assess the risk and
make appropriate notes.
We have also created a Digital hot line to digitally photograph,
scan and e-mail all suspicious lesions to a hospital specialist
for an opinion or an appointment.
What should I look out for?
Oral cancer can occur in many different ways, but the main
thing is to be suspicious of any changes in colour and texture
of the skin of the mouth, which last more than two weeks.
Most start off as white patches or red patches Many of these
patches are normal, only be concerned if they which may grow
in size and become gradually more uneven.
Oral cancer can also present as a non-healing ulcer in the
mouth, which is often painless. The main feature of cancer
is that unlike other ulcers it does not go away.
Which part of the mouth are they likely
to be found?
Most tumours of the mouth occur on the lips, under the tongue
and towards the back of the tongue.
How will the Specialist test for oral
A dentist or specialist should examine any ulcer or red/white
patch in the mouth. In order to determine the cause of the
problem they will usually need to take a sample, a biopsy.
This can usually be done painlessly under local anaesthetic.
If you are over 40 and smoke, drink alcohol heavily (over
21 units per week); use betel squid or chewing tobacco you
should be checked for mouth cancer once a year by a Dentist.
This applies equally to people wearing full dentures and have
Any red or white patches in the mouth, and any ulcers that
do not clear after two weeks, should also be checked.
You can greatly reduce the risk of mouth cancer if you stop
using tobacco (even after many years of use)
A healthy diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in animal
fats helps to prevent all types on cancer.
More information can be found on the following
National Cancer Institute