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.
What 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.