Affecting more than 6,000 people in the UK each year, oral cancer is a form of cancer becoming increasingly common. At Aqua Dental Spa, we are eager to do our bit to raise awareness of oral cancer and ensure our clients have access to the best screening measures and the latest information.
About oral cancer
Oral cancer affects the soft tissue in the mouth and throat. In the last decade, the number of cases diagnosed in the UK has almost doubled, yet many people are still unaware of this deadly disease. The worry is that with low public awareness, most cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, which means there is a good chance the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and is consequently less treatable.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to work out what causes cancer, but the main risk factors for oral cancer include:
- drinking alcohol
- a poor diet lacking in nutrients and vitamins
- exposure to viruses, including certain strains of the HPV, which is also linked to cervical cancer
Oral cancer screening
One of the most important aspects of the fight against oral cancer is screening and recognition of early warning signs. Screening involves a short test using sophisticated cameras to look inside the mouth and check for abnormalities in the soft tissue. When there are potential abnormalities, the shade of the tissue appears different and this flags up the need for further testing.
Early diagnosis, as with many forms of cancer, is key to survival and treating oral cancer early can increase survival rates up to 90 percent. At the moment, the 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is around 50 percent and this could be much higher with widespread screening and increased awareness.
Early signs of oral cancer to look out for include:
- mouth ulcers and sores that take a long time to heal (longer than two weeks)
- red or white patches in the mouth
- abnormal lumps or swelling (this may make it difficult to swallow)
- a persistent cough