Mouth cancer is one of the least well-known cancers but has a higher proportion of deaths per number of cases than breast cancer, cervical cancer or skin melanoma. Mouth cancer has a mortality rate of around 1,700 people per year, despite treatment, and this figure is predominantly the result of late detection. It’s important to find out about mouth cancer so that you know the symptoms and the risks.
What are the main causes of mouth cancer?
The two main causes have been identified as too much alcohol and smoking. Both cigarettes and alcohol are carcinogenic and can lead to the formation of abnormal cells that cause cancer. Although the exact triggers for mouth cancer are uncertain, the evidence is there that heavy drinkers and heavy smokers are much more at risk.
Are there any other risk factors?
Yes, tobacco products that are chewed – rather than smoked – can also put you at risk of developing mouth cancer e.g. chewing betel nut or taking snuff. Diet is another factor and there is evidence that a poor diet with little fresh food can contribute to making mouth cancer a serious risk. Poor oral hygiene is another issue – if you don’t floss and brush regularly, if you have untreated tooth decay and/or gum disease these can all be problematic.
Human papilloma virus (HPV)
HPV is a group of viruses that affect skin and moist membranes in your body, such as your cervix and your throat. These viruses are normally passed by skin-to-skin contact. Although not the major risk factor, there is some evidence that some types of HPV can cause abnormal tissue growth in the mouth. This can then lead to mouth cancer.
How does mouth cancer spread?
It is when mouth cancer spreads that it becomes really dangerous – this can happen in one of two ways. The cancer can spread either physically, moving from small abnormal cell growths in the mouth into surrounding tissues in the jaw, for example, or it can spread via the lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is basically a series of glands in the body that produces essential defence to fight infection. Once a mouth cancer has spread to another part of the body it is known as ‘metastic.’
How can you prevent mouth cancer?
There are some simple ways to help lower the risk of mouth cancer:
- Stop smoking
- Cut down on alcohol and avoid excessive drinking
- Make sure you have a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Practice good oral hygiene – brush twice a day, floss once and drink lots of water
- Make regular check ups with your dentist so any problems can be spotted early
If you need more information about mouth cancer, or you need to book in a checkup, feel free to contact us. As a bonus, our team at Oldbury Court are now offering finance for private treatments, with interest-free loans available on some payment periods. If you’d like to know more, contact the team at Oldbury Court for more information.