Not very many patients are aware of this fact, or even know very much about this disease. Mouth cancer can affect any part of the inside of the mouth, including the tongue, throat and lips. In 2010, 6,539 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in the UK. It’s estimated that over the next 10 years approximately 60,000 people will be diagnosed with this disease, and unless it’s detected early on around half will die. It’s not a very well-known condition; one of the main problems with mouth cancer is that it creates very few symptoms while in the early stages. Subsequently it is often diagnosed extremely late in the day when it’s much more difficult to treat. Your dentist Bromley is likely to be the only medical professional who regularly has the opportunity to examine the inside of your mouth, and who is fully qualified to screen you for mouth cancer.
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?
Your screening is carried out by Dr Zaki Bashir as part of your normal checkup. It’s completely painless and isn’t at all uncomfortable. During the examination Dr Bashir will be looking for any changes to the colour of the tissues inside your mouth, as well as any signs of lumps or thickened areas, or areas that feel rough to the touch. He will gently but thoroughly examine all the tissues inside your mouth, including underneath your tongue. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll find anything, but if he does then it’s a simple matter of taking a sample of a few skin cells so they can be analysed for signs of anything suspicious. Most times it’s likely any changes to the oral tissues will be due to something else completely, but it is better to know for sure.
Be Aware of Any Changes in Your Mouth
In between dental visits, it’s worth keeping an eye out for any signs that something might be wrong, and all this means is carrying out a quick self-check every month or so. This will help you become accustomed to the way healthy tissue should feel and look so that if anything does develop you’ll be far more aware that it isn’t quite right. Signs to look out for include any changes to the oral tissues, such as red or white spots, or any areas that feel particularly thick to touch or which are rough.
You should also be aware of any changes to the way your teeth bite together, or differences that affect the way dental appliances such as dentures or braces fit in your mouth. One of the first symptoms of mouth cancer is having an ulcer that doesn’t seem to heal up properly. Most ulcers should disappear by themselves within a couple of weeks. If yours seems to be hanging around for longer then it’s worth contacting Bromley Dental Practice for further advice.
People who are more at risk of developing oral cancer includes those who smoke or use alcohol to excess, or who have been exposed to the human papilloma virus. However it can affect anyone at any age so it’s important to be vigilant.