When it comes to breast or testicular cancer the message is clear: self-examinations is one of our best ways to detect potential signs of the disease. Knowing our bodies and what is normal for us as individuals is crucial in helping us to recognise potential symptoms that may need to be discussed with a doctor.
So why, with over 7,000 cases of mouth cancer being diagnosed each year in the UK, aren’t people self-examining their mouths for signs of this disease?
Dr Henry Clover, Head of Dental Policy at Simplyhealth Professionals, says: “Very few people are aware of the risks of mouth cancer or the fact that cases of the disease are rapidly increasing in the UK. In fact, more people suffer from the disease than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined. Yet, if people know how to self-examine and what the signs of mouth cancer are, it could save their lives.
“As well as seeing your dentist regularly (whether that is once or twice a year) it is a really good idea to self-examine as part of your oral health routine at home. That way, if you do spot something that you are not sure about, you can book an appointment and get it checked out as soon as possible.”
Early detection of mouth cancer, as with other forms of the disease, can dramatically improve chances of survival to 90% from 50%. Therefore, understanding the signs and symptoms of the disease – as well as knowing which parts of the mouth to check – is vital in helping to prevent the condition developing.
How to self-examine for mouth cancer
Checking your mouth for potential signs or symptoms of mouth cancer is quick, simple and painless. The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation has an excellent step-by-step video showing how you can check your own mouth for signs of mouth cancer:
How to check your own mouth
Helpfully, it also shows the differences between a healthy and unhealthy mouth, to help identify when you need to speak to your dentist or GP.
What to look for:
• Ulcers which do not heal within three weeks
• Red and white patches in the mouth
• Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth, head and neck area.
For more details, take a look at About mouth cancer
Keep your appointment with your dentist
During your regular check-up with your dentist, he or she will not only be assessing the health of your teeth and gums, but will also be carry out an examination of the health of your mouth: the tongue, palette, cheeks etc. This is incredibly important in helping to identify potential early signs of mouth cancer.
Our useful video, ‘What happens in a mouth cancer check’ shows you the process your dentist will take.
Simplyhealth Professionals is sponsor of Mouth Cancer Action Month 2017. For more information about this campaign visit www.mouthcancer.org.uk
Find out more about our #BlueLipSelfie campaign.