Oral cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity. This includes the cheeks, the top and bottom of the mouth, the lips and tongue, and the throat and sinuses. The most recent figures show it was the 15th most common cancer in the UK in 2009, and during that year there were 6,236 new cases diagnosed. It’s something that is more likely to affect older people, and men are at greater risk. It’s something we take very seriously here at Leeds City Dentalcare, and an oral cancer screening is an important part of your check-up. Dr David Brown or another of our dentists will check all the oral tissues in your mouth, and will gently feel your neck. It’s still a pretty rare condition, but treatment is much more successful if it’s caught early on.
Common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Noticing you have thicker or rough areas in your mouth or on your lips, or that some areas appear to be swollen
- The colour of your oral tissues may have changed, and you might notice white or red spots
- Any sores in your head or neck area or in your mouth that fail to heal normally, and which bleed easily when touched
- Noticing it is more difficult to chew or swallow
- Your voice may become slightly hoarse, or you may begin to suffer from a chronic sore throat
- Your teeth don’t meet together in the same way as they used to, and dental appliances such as dentures may not fit quite so well
- Unexplained weight loss
If you do notice you have developed some of the symptoms then it’s best to book a check-up with our Leeds dentist, or ask your doctor for advice. It’s highly likely the reason is due to something else, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Who is Most at Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?
People most at risk of developing oral cancer are likely to be heavy smokers or drinkers. It’s estimated that smokers may be up to seven times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who don’t smoke. Using smokeless tobacco products is as bad and can increase the risk of this disease. Excess drinking can increase the risk by around five times. People who have a family history of cancer are likely to be more at risk, as are those who sunbathe to excess. However around a quarter of those diagnosed with oral cancer will not have been at any obvious risk.
How is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?
The earliest signs that something is amiss are likely to be picked up during your screening at Leeds City Dentalcare. The next step will be to perform a biopsy. This simply involves taking a tiny sample of tissue so it can be examined for any signs of abnormal cells. In the unlikely event that anything is found, a larger biopsy will be taken.
The treatment for oral cancer may involve surgically removing the growth, followed by radiation or chemotherapy to help destroy any cancer cells that might remain. The survival rates for this disease are very good provided oral cancer is detected early enough. Regular examinations or check-ups are a must for general dentistry in Leeds.
While visiting our Leeds surgery is an excellent way of minimizing the risk, it can also help to carry out self-examination every month. This simply involves examining the inside of your mouth and all the surfaces of your tongue. You can also keep an eye out to make sure you don’t have any thickened areas of tissue or lumps and bumps that weren’t there before.