Mouth cancer: What are the causes and symptoms?
Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, occurs when a tumour develops on the surface of your lips, mouth, or gums. Worryingly, mouth cancer cases are on the rise.
Speaking on ITV’s show Lorraine on November 9, Dr Amir Khan has revealed there were 3,000 deaths from the deadly condition in 2021.
“Over the decade, we’ve seen 46 per cent rise in new cases of mouth cancer,” the TV doctor added.
Just like any other cancer type, early detection of mouth cancer is key as it can unlock better outcomes, according to Neil Sikka, a dentist at Bupa Dental Care.
Fortunately, the dentist has outlined the earliest signs of the culprit to look for.
READ MORE: Dentist warns of seven signs of mouth cancer that ‘should not be ignored’
According to Sikka, key signs of mouth cancer are mouth ulcers that don’t heal after a two-to-three-week period, unexplained lumps in the mouth, or swollen lymph glands in the neck.
However, these red flags aren’t the only signs of mouth cancer to be aware of.
The dentist added: “Other symptoms may include difficulty in swallowing which lasts for a few weeks, red or white patches in the mouth, teeth becoming loose for any unexplained reason, or unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth.
“It’s important to remember that all these signs and symptoms can also have a normal explanation, but if they concern you or are persistent then you should visit your dentist for a professional check-up.”
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Sikka recommended seeing your dentist if you are experiencing persistent symptoms pointing to mouth cancer.
However, regular dentist check-ups could also help identify warning signs early.
The dentist said: “Visit your dentist regularly, as they are specifically trained to screen for oral cancer as part of a normal check-up.
“If your dentist sees anything that requires further investigation, they will refer you for further tests.”
Sikka also explained you could do a “quick and easy” check of your mouth at home.
The dentist advised following these simple steps:
- Lift your tongue up and look for any unusual colour changes in your mouth. Use your index finger and press along the floor of your mouth and beneath your tongue to feel for any swelling, lumps, or ulcers.
- Open your mouth and pull your cheeks outwards. You’re looking for any red or white patches on the inside of your cheeks. You can also use your index finger to check for ulcers, lumps, or tenderness.
- Use your thumb and forefinger on the inside and outside of the gum, moving slowly around your mouth to feel for anything unusual.
- Pull your upper lip upwards and bottom lip downwards to look inside the mouth for any sores or changes in colour. Use your thumb and forefinger to feel around your lips for any lumps or bumps.
- Examine your face. Is there any swelling on your face or jaw that you haven’t noticed before? Can you see any moles that have become larger? Run your fingers along the jaw on both sides to feel if your face feels symmetrical.
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