WHAT IS MOUTH CANCER?
Mouth cancer, also called oral cancer, is a type of cancer that develops in the lining of the mouth. The areas most commonly affected are the surface of the tongue especially towards the back of the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth and also the lips and the gums.
The cancer can also develop in the tonsils, salivary glands, and in the throat.
Mouth Cancer Action Months is a charity campaign by Oral Health Foundation that raises the awareness of mouth cancer, and the donations go towards the education of the risk factors, signs and symptoms. The blue ribbon represents the mouth cancer awareness.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF MOUTH CANCER
The early signs of mouth cancer include:
A mouth ulcer that doesn't heal for more than three weeks
Unusual lumps or swellings in your mouth or around your neck
White or red patches in your mouth
Watch out also:
If your teeth are loose without another underlying cause, such as periodontal disease
Unexplained numbness (not as a result of an anaesthetic) of your tongue, lip
Do not ignore any of those signs and see a dentist. Report anything that is painful in your mouth to the dentist.
Mouth cancer may affects parts of the body responsible for eating, speaking, and breathing; it may also affect our appearance. Mouth cancer is dangerous because it can spread to other tissues of the mouth, the neck, or the jaw bone. It can also spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic glands and vessels.
MOUTH CANCER RISK FACTORS
Anyone can get mouth cancer. But the there are risk factors that increase the chance of getting oral cancer:
smoking cigarettes, cigars, roll ups
using tobacco products in general, also smokeless, for example chewing tobacco or using powdered tobacco for snorting
drinking alcohol - people who smoke and drink heavily are at higher risk of getting oral cancer.
Chewing betel nut highly increases the risk of getting mouth cancer as betel nut has a carcinogenic effect (has a potential to cause cancer).
Poor diet may contribute as a risk factor - make sure your diet is high in antioxidants sourced from fresh fruit and vegetables.
HOW IS MOUTH CANCER DIAGNOSED?
if there's ANYTHING suspicious in your mouth your dentist it your GP will refer you to an oral surgeon for a biopsy. That means a small sample of the tissue is removed and checked for the presence of cancerous cells. Even if your dentist has referred you, don't worry - dental clinicians follow strict guidelines and very often refer you to make sure that the unusual changes you have in your mouth are NOT cancerous.
Mouth cancer treatment has a high rate of success if the cancer was detected EARLY. If it is caught early, a minor surgery is required, and the is a very high chance that the cancer NEVER comes back. That's why you should report any changes to your dentist IMMEDIATELY.
How long is the treatment?
Even with advanced mouth cancer, improvements in surgery techniques, radiotherapy and medication mean the chances of a cure are better. Treatment with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy if required lasts usually at least four months.
The team treating a mouth cancer patient includes a surgeon and oncologist, dentist to restore teeth, dietician to help design a diet plan if there are difficulties with eating or swallowing, and a speech therapist if some of the parts of the mouth responsible for speaking are affected.
HAVE YOUR MOUTH CHECKED
Regular checkups with the dentist are very important since the cancer may develop in the jaw bone, and the X-ray that dentist takes might reveal it unusual changes in the bone.
Wear a blue ribbon badge to help raise awareness of the oral cancer and to show support for the mouth cancer campaign.