Mouth Cancer Screening

Get checked out for mouth cancer

It’s not just decay and gum disease that show up pretty regularly in people’s mouths, cancer does too. In fact, cancers of the head and neck are on the increase and the number of cases has increased by 30% in the last 20 years and is expected to rise by a similar figure again by 2035. In Europe, about 100,800 people are diagnosed with mouth cancers and 40,000 die of these cancers.

Mouth Cancer Screening in StevenageWhat is mouth cancer?

Mouth, or oral, cancer is a cover all term for a variety of tumours that can appear around the lips, the throat, the palate, the gums, the salivary glands and inside the cheeks. The most common kind of cancer in these areas arises from the surface cells of the skin and is called squamous cell cancer.

There are also throat cancers, and cancers in the sinuses.

Cancers of the throat and mouth can appear and spread very quickly, so it is important to get screened regularly, especially as you get older.

What happens at a mouth cancer screening?

When you come to Smilecraft in Stevenage, we include mouth cancer screening as part of a regular 6-monthly check-up on every patient aged 16 and over. Screenings only take a couple of minutes to carry out.

We will wear gloves while we examine you and we will be looking at your face and neck for abnormalities like swellings, moles, asymmetry and abnormalities.

After that, we will move on to look around your lips and the edges of your mouth for any changes in colour or texture.

Next we will have a good feel of the lymph nodes in your neck and around your lower jaw under your chin, checking for any swellings and enlargements. We will also look inside your mouth for any unusual swellings or lesions. We will look inside your cheeks, around your gums, at your tongue, under your tongue, at the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat.

If you wear dentures, you will need to take them out for this examination.

Mouth cancers are strongly linked to smoking, and we can help you quit with our smoking cessation programme.

On the lookout for mouth cancer

It is not just gum disease and tooth decay that can appear in your mouth when you least expect it. Mouth cancer can also show up, which is why at Smilecraft in Stevenage, mouth cancer screening comes as part of your regular twice-yearly check-up.

You may think you won’t get mouth cancer, but this is in fact the sixth most common cancer in the world. It used to be much less common in the UK, but now it is on the rise.

Mouth Cancer ScreeningThe numbers

Cancer Research UK has figures that show that over the last decade, the number of people dying from mouth cancer has risen by 21%, to about 2,700 deaths a year, with similar increases among both men and women. UK death rates are expected to rise by 38% between 2014-2035, to seven deaths per 100,000 people by 2035.

Why does mouth cancer occur?

It is not just smokers who get mouth cancer. It has also been linked to not eating enough fruit and veg and drinking alcohol, in that order. Experts predict that mouth cancer caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) transmitted through oral sex will become the main cause of mouth cancer.

The good news is that, it is easy to detect early signs of mouth cancer, and, if it is caught early, it can often be cured with relatively minor surgery.

Picking up on the signs

We will carefully check the linings of your cheeks, the roof of your mouth (palate), the lips, and gums. We will also check your salivary glands, tonsils, and pharynx – the part of the throat that connects your mouth to your windpipe, although cancer here happens more rarely.

Mouth cancers show up as:

  • painful mouth ulcers that don’t heal;
  • strange and persistent lumps;
  • strange lumps in the neck;
  • loose teeth, or sockets that won’t heal after extractions;
  • lips or tongue that feels numb or odd;
  • red or white patches;
  • changes in speech, such as a lisp.

Mouth cancer is more likely to affect drinkers and smokers, and this may be why more men get it than women, and why it is more prevalent in people over 50 and younger than 74.