We posted in October about mouth cancer and the Stand up 2 Cancer Fundraising Campaign on channel 4. November is the official mouth cancer awareness month in the UK. If you still haven’t booked a check up with your dentist, let this be the month you do it. It could save your life. Without early detection, of the 6000 people per year diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK, half will die.
Mouth Cancer is the 15th most common cancer in the UK; it is the 12th most common cancer among men and the 16th most common cancer among women. The incidence of mouth cancer is strongly related to age and lifestyle.
Are you at risk?
Incidence rates increase sharply in men from the age of 45 years and peak between 60-69 years of age. In women, it is more gradual from the age of 45 and peaking aged 80 + years.
So that’s cleared up who is most at risk in terms of age. If you fall within those age brackets, get your phone and call your dentist. Book an appointment for a check-up and let us take a look and check for any early signs of mouth cancer. Early detection really is crucial.
What else increases your risk?
As we mentioned, the lifestyle choices you make can increase your risk of mouth cancer. Smoking and excess alcohol consumption are two of the biggest risk factors.
Alcohol: Someone drinking 100g of alcohol a day is 4-6 times more at risk of oral cancer.
The table below should help you work out where your alcohol intake falls.
- 1 pint of ordinary strength lager (Carling Black Label, Fosters) 16 grams of alcohol
- 1 pint of strong lager (Stella Artois, Kronenberg 1664) 24 grams of alcohol
- 1 pint of ordinary strength bitter (John Smiths, Boddingtons) 16 grams of alcohol
- 1 pint of Best Bitter (Fuller's ESB, Young's Special) 24 grams of alcohol
- 1 pint of ordinary strength cider (Woodpecker) 16 grams of alcohol
- 1 pint of string cider (Dry Blackthorn, Strongbow) 24 grams of alcohol
- 1 x 175ml glass of red or white wine 16 grams of alcohol
- 1 pub measure of spirits 8 grams of alcohol
Remember the recommended healthy daily units of alcohol are 3-4 units per day for men and 2-3 units per day for women. 1 unit of alcohol equates to approximately 10 grams of alcohol.
Smoking is an avoidable risk. Smoking accounts for 28% of deaths from cancer. The best thing to do is to stop. You already know that. See your GP and seek their advice on what might best work for you. If you smoke and drink heavily in combination, the risk of cancers is increased further.
Smokeless tobacco – chewing tobacco – is highly addictive and can significantly increase your risk of mouth cancer. You can find more information on the different types of tobacco here.
Diet is also important. A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables seems to reduce the risk of developing cancer of the mouth, possibly because these foods contain a lot of antioxidant vitamins and other substances that help prevent damage to body cells. So eat a healthy, balanced diet and this will help to maintain your protein and zinc levels.
These are the biggest risk factors you need to be aware of. All are influenced by your lifestyle and something you can change if you identify with them.
Information on other risk factors can be found at Cancer Research UK.
Watch this video from Cancer Research UK on the symptoms of mouth cancer.
The most important message you should take away from reading this today is this -
The outlook of mouth cancer is greatly improved IF it is diagnosed early.
Your dentist will automatically check for signs of mouth cancer when you attend for an ordinary check up. So, what are you waiting for? Make that appointment today.
If you'd like to know more about mouth cancer go to http://www.mouthcancer.org/page/risk-factors