A recent report by the Oral Health Foundation has revealed that new cases of oral cancer in the UK have increased by 49% in the last decade. In 2017, over 2,700 people lost their life to oral cancer in the UK and only 8% of people responding in the study said that they were confident in their knowledge of the disease. The study shows that early diagnosis is one of the key challenges in confronting mouth cancer, so raising awareness of the risk factors, as well as of the early signs and symptoms, is vital.
The main symptoms of mouth cancer include:
- Long lasting mouth ulcers (lasting longer than three weeks)
- Red or white patches in the mouth
- Lumps and bumps in the mouth, or head and neck area
The main risk factors of mouth cancer include:
- Those who smoke
- Those who drink alcohol to excess
- Those with HPV (human papillomavirus), which is now usually vaccinated against in youth
- Those who chew tobacco
- Those with an unhealthy diet that lacks vitamins & minerals
- Those using sunbeds, or exposed to too much sunlight without protecting the skin and lips
- Those with a previous history of cancer – especially previous oral cancer, skin cancer, cervical cancer, penile cancer or anal cancer
- Those with a family history of cancer
How can you check yourself for signs of oral cancer?
You can do some simple checks yourself for signs of mouth cancer, and you should always consult your dentist or a medical professional if you think that there is something wrong. Your dentist should also perform many of the below when you visit for a check-up.
- Check your head and neck – look for signs of bumps, lumps or swellings on one side of the face. Do both sides look the same? Feel along the sides and front of your neck for any tenderness or lumps
- Check the inside of your lower and upper lip for any sores or changes in colour. Check for lumps, bumps or changes in texture
- Check your cheeks with your finger for any lumps, tenderness or ulcers or any patches that seem to have changed
- Check the roof of your mouth with a finger (or your dentist will check visually) for signs of lumps of changes in colour
- Check your tongue for changes in colour, texture, swelling or ulcers. These could be along the sides, on the top or the underside of the tongue
- Check the floor of the mouth with a finger to see if there are any bumps, lumps or swellings
Sometimes, dentists can unfortunately fail to pick up on clear signs of oral cancer, and as a result, they can misdiagnose or fail to diagnose the condition at all, which can lead to significant issues. If not spotted and treated early, oral cancer can progress, and even lead to death in some cases, so it’s really important that it is spotted as early as possible.
If your dentist has failed to diagnose or has misdiagnosed your oral cancer, this may be considered dental negligence, depending on the circumstances, and it might be possible for you claim compensation. You can contact us to discuss your options and to find out if you have a valid claim, on 0808 163 4521.