CASES of mouth cancer are on the up in the UK and experts have warned that more people are battling with the disease than cancers such as testicular and cervical.
There are 35 diagnosed cases of head and neck cancers per 100,000 people every year in the UK, two-thirds of which are men.
The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) states that every day in the UK, 31 people receive the devastating news that they have been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer.
According to the NHS mouth cancer is the 6th most common cancer in the world.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that many people have felt uncomfortable going to their GP.
It was previously revealed that one in three people had been put off going to their GP and experts have warned that this could create a “ticking cancer time bomb”.
That’s why it’s more important than ever that you know the signs of mouth cancer, and the HNCF has devise a simple 60 second check that could save your life by detecting cancer early.
1. Look at your face
Michelle Vickers, CEO of HNCF said early diagnoses can “greatly improve” survival rates.
She said the first place to start is to look at your face and look for any swelling that isn’t usually there.
Michelle added: “Inspect your skin, do you have any moles that have become larger or started to itch or bleed?
“Don’t forget to turn your head from side to side, this stretches the skin over the muscles making lumps easier to see.”
2. Feel your neck
Next on the list is to feel your neck and Michelle said the best way to do this is to run the fingers under the jaw and feel along the large muscle either side of the neck using the balls of your fingers.
She said that you need to be checking for any lumps or swollen areas and if everything feels the same on both sides.
WHAT IS MOUTH CANCER?
According to the official NHS website, mouth cancer “is where a tumour develops in the lining of the mouth.”
This may be on the tongue, the insides of the cheeks, the roof of your mouth, or on the lips or gums.
In other words, there are lots of places you can develop tumours which are difficult for sufferers to spot on their own.
While squamous cell carcinoma (abnormal cells in the skin’s epidermis) is the most common form , the type of mouth cancer depends on which cell the cancer starts from.
What are the symptoms?
There are plenty of symptoms to look out for, including ulcers that don’t go away within a few weeks.
However, doctors advise keeping an eye on “unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth and neck” as well as monitoring loose teeth.
It is also a good idea to visit the dentist if you suddenly have “numbness or odd feeling on the lip or tongue” as this could be a sign of mouth cancer.
Alternatively, if you develop any unexplained change in speech (such as a lisp), this is also worth getting checked out.
3. Pucker up
The next step can be done when you are brushing your teeth, as Michelle said this time can be used to inspect your lips.
She said: “Feel around the inside of your lips and along the gum line.
“Any ulcers that have been hanging around or come back, changes in texture, or lumps and bumps need to be checked out by a medical professional.”
4. Feel your cheeks
Michelle said that to check your cheeks you should feel both the inside and outside with your fingers.
“It is meant to feel the same on both sides.
“You’re looking for red or white patches, lumps, ulcers, or tenderness”, she added.
5. Tilt your head
This next step should be carried out once a week.
Michelle said while looking in the mirror you should tilt your head back and open you mouth wide.
“You are looking for ulcers and also changes in colour and texture.
“If you do this once a week, you’ll spot if anything changes or looks unusual.”
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When it comes to risk areas, the charity advises that the tongue should be a place of concern.
It said you should check both sides of the tongue carefully and the floor of the mouth for any abnormalities as these are the areas of the mouth that are most at risk.
The HNCF states that abnormalities can include red or white patches, or lumps or numb spots.
It advised that if you experience any of these then you should get them checked out by your doctor or dentist.