Mouth cancer – do you know the signs?

In the next year, more than 7,500 people in the UK will be diagnosed with mouth cancer.

Without early detection, around half will not survive for more than five years after diagnosis*. With cases of the disease on the rise, it’s more important than ever that you know the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, are aware of the lifestyle factors that increase risk and make regular visits to your dental team. 

Mouth cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. Most cases are related to tobacco use, particularly if combined with heavy alcohol consumption. However, the disease can affect anyone, and may also be related to poor diet. 

Mouth cancer can be difficult to spot, as the disease can occur in different forms in various areas of the mouth. If you have a mouth ulcer that doesn’t heal within three weeks, notice an unusual lump or swelling, or a red or white patch in the mouth, then it is important to get this checked out by your dentist straight away. 

It’s likely that your dentist and their dental team are already screening you for mouth cancer in your regular appointments. The examination is painless, and involves your dentist using a small mirror to check each area of your mouth, especially the ones you can’t see easily yourself. 

If the signs are spotted early, mouth cancer can be successfully treated and the outlook is extremely good. Unfortunately, many people come forward too late, which is why it’s vital to visit your dental team regularly. 

Keep a look out for any changes within your mouth each time you brush your teeth, and if you notice anything unusual, you should book an appointment with your dental team right away – if in doubt, get checked out. 

To learn more about the disease, and to find a free mouth cancer check near you, visit To find a member dentist in your area, just click here. 

*All statistics from, November 2013.

Published: November 18th, 2013

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If the signs are spotted early, mouth cancer can be successfully treated