Mouth cancers are increasing and there are about 4500 new cases per year. The survival rate is high (90%) if they are caught early but it falls if they are found at a later stage. Men over the age of 40 are particularly at risk but younger people are increasingly affected.
Smoking and other forms of tobacco use (e.g. betel and paan chewing), and drinking alcohol often, are the main causes of mouth cancer. They can affect any of the soft tissues including the tongue, the cheek, the floor of mouth, the palate and the throat. Lip cancer can be caused by exposure to sunlight.
- Anyone who has a white or red patch or ulceration in their mouth, which has not healed within three weeks, should consult a dentist immediately.
- Wear a protective sun cream on your lips.
- Try to give up smoking.
- Reduce your drinking.
- A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is thought to have a protective effect.
Visit a dentist at least once a year, even if you wear dentures to allow the dentist to examine your mouth. This is especially if you smoke and drink alcohol.