Mouth cancer kills more people each year than cervical or (another cancer) cancer. Your dentist is in the best position to spot mouth cancer, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to have regular check-ups.
Early signs of mouth cancer can be something as simple as a mouth ulcer that won’t go away. If you are over 40 and a heavy smoker or drinker, you are more likely to be at risk, so you need to be especially watchful of changes in your mouth.
If you have a mouth ulcer which lasts for more than two weeks, or a red or white patch in your mouth, or you notice a swelling or growth which doesn’t go down after a couple of weeks, go and see your dentist. It may be nothing, but that simple check-up could just save your life. You won’t be wasting your dentist’s time if you’re worried about an ulcer or a sore patch in your mouth. Remember, half of those diagnosed with mouth cancer die from the disease because it wasn’t caught early enough.
Your dentist will look at your face and neck and feel under your jaw and down your neck. They will also have a good look around your mouth, including under your tongue, to check for any of the warning signs.
You can reduce your risk of mouth cancer quite simply. If you stop smoking, cut down on your alcohol intake and make sure you eat a healthy diet with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, you can dramatically reduce the risks.