Dental therapist reveals how to check for oral cancer
A dental expert has shared what a person “should be looking for” on a regular basis when it comes to oral cancer.
“Examining yourself once a month is important,” said dental hygienist Anna Middleton, especially if you smoke and drink alcohol.
These two factors are the “main” contributors to the development of oral cancer.
In fact, “drinking excessive amounts of alcohol increases your risk of oral cancer by four”, added Middleton.
She highlighted drinker and smokers are 30 times more likely to develop oral cancer.
Other factors include poor diet, sun exposure, and the human papilloma virus (HPV), which can be “transmitted through unprotected oral sex”.
Middleton stated HPV infection “could overtake tobacco and alcohol as the main risk factor within the next decade”.
She pointed out the symptoms of oral cancer to be aware of, such as a lump or swelling anywhere in the mouth, jaw or neck.
Another possible indication of the disease is difficulty swallowing, chewing, or moving the jaw or tongue.
Middleton added that “a chronic sore throat or hoarseness that persists more than six weeks” should be investigated by a dental professional.
Also, be on the lookout for “ulcers or red or white patches anywhere in the mouth that do not heal in three weeks”.
There might be “numbness of the tongue or any other area of the mouth” or a “feeling that something is stuck in the throat”.
Middleton advised to be wary of “unexplained loss of teeth”, which can also be a sign of oral cancer.
Middleton strongly recommended that anything that lasts longer than three weeks needs further investigation by a dental professional.
According to Cancer Research UK, one in 55 UK males – and one in 108 UK females – will be diagnosed with oral cancer during their lifetime.
If diagnosed and treated at an early stage, the chance of a full recovery is higher.
Anna Middleton is a dental hygienist and therapist, and the founder of London Hygienist.
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