Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is a tumor that develops in the part of the mouth. This can be the surface of the tongue, the inner surface of the cheeks, the palate, lips, or gums. Tumors can also develop in the salivary glands, the tonsils at the back of the mouth, and the throat that connects the mouth to the trachea (pharynx). However, they are rarer. Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated at an early stage. Mouth cancer is the 6th most common cancer in the world, but it is not much common in the UK. About 8,300 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year in the UK which is about 1 in 50 diagnosed cancers. However, more than two in three cases of mouth cancer happen in adults over 55 years. While only one in eight cases occurs in adults under 50 years old. So, men are more likely to have this cancer than women because they tend to take more alcohol.
The benefits of mouth cancer scanning
When many people hear the word “mouth cancer screening”, they think of a long, intensive treatment that is very frightening. But the treatment is not like that at all. The following are the benefits of mouth Cancer screening.
It detects mouth cancer or precancerous lesions
Prevents severe and serious infections
Lay a path for early protection
An acceptable degree of accuracy
Can save lives after early detection
Help to maintain an overall healthy body
What are the symptoms?
Mouth cancer can develop in most parts of the mouth, including the lips, gums, and sometimes the throat. The most common symptoms of oral cancer are the following.
If you find any of these symptoms, then you should visit your dentist immediately
Painful mouth sores that don’t heal within a few weeks
White or reddish spots on the inside of the mouth
Unexplained persistent lumps in the mouth or neck that won’t go away
Loose teeth or sockets that do not heal after extractions
Persistent numbness or a strange sensation on the lip or tongue
Difficult or painful swallowing
Changes in speech such as a lisp
What to expect before and during mouth cancer screening?
Oral cancer screening does not require special preparations. It is usually done during a routine dental visit. So, when you visit your dentist after experiencing any of the symptoms, then expect the following.
First of all, if you have any dentures or other removable dental appliances, then remove them before visiting the dentist
The dentist will go through a complete oral examination as well as looking for asymmetries, swelling, unevenness, discolouration, ulcers, or other abnormalities
He will also observe your face, neck, lips, jaw, cheeks, inside your nose and mouth, and all the important parts to check signs of cancers
He may use light and a mirror to completely examine the inner side of your mouth
A tongue depressor is used to hold down your tongue and look at the back of your mouth
You might be asked to stick your tongue out of the mouth to expose areas in your throat that are otherwise difficult to see by making different sounds
The dentist may touch your mouth, neck, and face to find any abnormality
Oral screening devices like an oral brush biopsy, a fluorescent light, and an oral lesion screening are used to complete the process
What to expect after mouth cancer screening?
This is to remember that oral screening is a precautionary measure, and not diagnostic. So, if your dentist found nothing, then it is a piece of great news for you. However, you should maintain strong oral hygiene. If he finds any cancer symptoms then he may refer you for more detailed tests. However, you should:
Quit smoking or using tobacco in other ways, such as chewing tobacco
Make sure you don’t drink more than the recommended weekly alcohol intake
Eat a healthy and balanced diet that includes fresh vegetables, citrus fruits, olive oil, and fish
Maintain good oral hygiene
Brush your teeth twice a day
Floss at least once a day
Visit your dentist regularly
How much does the scan cost?
The cost of oral cancer screening varies from patient to patient. However, on average, the cost ranges between £100 and £250.
Oral cancer is one of the most common oral diseases in the world. If you find any symptoms, then book an appointment with your dentist immediately.