Cases of mouth cancer are increasing. Currently, about 2,700 per year die from mouth or oral cancer in the UK, and worryingly there are a higher proportion of deaths per number of cases than of breast, cervical or skin cancer.
A big factor in this is that many cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed at a late stage, making treatment more complex and more difficult. Dentists play a vital role in the early detection of mouth cancer, which is why at Forest Dental we carry out mouth cancer screening as a standard part of our routine dental check-ups.
As with any form of cancer, early diagnosis vastly increases your chances of beating the disease and making a full recovery. Mouth cancer screening is a simple, painless procedure that can save lives. It’s carried out here at the practice, and if anything suspicious is found we will refer you immediately to a hospital consultant for further investigation.
The first step is to take a detailed medical and dental health history, so that we can identify any particular risk factors, such as smoking. Your dentist will then carry out a thorough examination of the outside of your mouth, your head and neck by observation and by touch, followed by an examination of the inside of your mouth, including under your tongue and the inside of your cheeks.
Symptoms of mouth cancer include lumps on the tongue or inside the mouth (these may be painless), mouth ulcers that do not heal, and white or reddish patches inside your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else unusual, please come to see us as soon as possible – don’t wait for your regular dental check-up. In many cases these symptoms will be benign, but because early diagnosis is vital we urge you to have a check-up as soon as possible.