This month is oral cancer month and the traditional “blue lip” campaign is under way.
You can find out more information, from the mouth cancer organisation’s excellent website:
We have also added a new leaflet, developed by Leicestershire County Council. Its an excellent leaflet that is really well written, you can download it here.
Causes of oral cancer
Remember that if you have any concerns about your mouth, have an ulcer that has not healed or a white patch that is painful or bleeds then you should seek advice from your dentist. Oral cancer is most frequently associated with smoking and alcohol consumption and the risk is greater if you do both, especially if the alcohol is spirit based.
Other things may also increase the risk. These include:
- chewing betel quid (even if it doesn’t have tobacco in it)
- having medical problems that cause a weak immune system
- infection with a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV)
- eating an unhealthy diet with not enough fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Long-term ultraviolet light exposure (from sunlight, sun beds or sunlamps) increases the risk of lip cancer.
Oral cancer has been increasing in young people – often as a result of higher levels of smoking in younger females and the increased prevalence of HPV infection – although the UK there is now an immunisation programme for girls.
Symptoms of oral cancer
Symptoms of mouth cancer Back to top
The most common symptom of mouth cancer is an ulcer or sore in the mouth or on the lip that doesn’t heal.
Other symptoms may include:
- a white (leukoplakia) or red (erythroplakia) patch in the mouth that doesn’t go away or cant be easily removed
- a lump or thickening in the mouth or on the lip
- difficulty or pain with chewing, swallowing or speaking
- bleeding or numbness in the mouth, or an altered sensation such as tingling
- loose teeth or dentures that don’t fit well anymore
- a lump in the neck
- losing a lot of weight over a short time.
These symptoms can be caused by lots of other conditions, such as periodontal disease, but it’s important to have them checked by your doctor or dentist. Mouth cancer, like most cancers, can be treated more successfully when it’s detected early.