January is traditionally a time when people make resolutions to be healthier and now is the perfect time to book an oral cancer screening check. This simple, 5-minute test can help to improve oral cancer survival rates dramatically.
What is oral cancer and should I be worried?
Oral cancer is a form of cancer found in the soft tissue in the mouth and throat. Although oral cancer is not as common as other forms of cancer, it is becoming more prevalent, and the number of people diagnosed with oral cancer has almost doubled in just ten years. Unlike other forms of cancer, oral cancer has a relatively low media profile and many people are unaware of the causes, risk factors and symptoms, which means that many cases are diagnosed when cancer has reached an advanced stage and is harder to treat. Oral cancer kills more people in the UK than testicular and cervical cancer combined.
Last year, more than 6,000 cases of oral cancer were diagnosed in the UK. With screening, we can ensure that more people survive oral cancer, as it enables us to identify abnormal changes in the mouth at a very early stage when there is a low risk of cancer spreading and a high chance of successful treatment. Screening takes just a few minutes, there’s no pain involved and it could help to save your life. We simply use advanced technology to identify changes in the soft tissue, as these are not always noticeable to the human eye.
The symptoms of oral cancer
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include red or white patches in the mouth, slow-healing sores or mouth ulcers and abnormal swelling. Some people also suffer from difficulty swallowing and a persistent sore throat. These symptoms tend to be quite general and it’s very unlikely that you will have oral cancer if you spot these signs alone. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and we encourage our patients to seek advice if they notice any changes in the mouth and to keep up to date with their routine dental check-ups.