You might be wondering why Lyons Financial Services are educating readers about mouth cancer! Well ever since we’ve starting providing access for our clients to DeCare Dental, one of Ireland’s leading provider of dental insurance products, we’ve become much more aware of oral health issues and the importance of vigilance in relation to this area of health. While of course we focus on encouraging our clients to avail of these valuable products, we also feel that a greater awareness of oral health will reduce the likelihood of problems for people in the future. So we’ve set out a few thoughts in relation to the signs of mouth cancer.
Unfortunately over 300 cases of mouth cancer are detected in Ireland each year. Thankfully though, half of all mouth cancers are diagnosed at an early stage. Earlier diagnosis results in easier treatment, better outcomes and a higher quality of life after treatment. A regular check-up with your dentist should include an examination of the entire mouth for early detection of cancerous and precancerous conditions. You should also know what to look for while cleaning your mouth. If you observe any of the tell-tale signs listed below, make sure to see your dentist so that any relevant signs or symptoms can be evaluated professionally.
Check Your Mouth Frequently
Mouth cancer can affect the lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, palate, tonsil, throat, salivary glands, nose and voice box (larynx). Some of the tell-tale signs may include
- A sore or ulcer in your mouth or on the lip that does not heal
- Difficulty or pain on chewing and swallowing
- A persistent sore throat, hoarse voice or difficulty speaking
- An unexplained loose tooth
- A lump in the mouth or neck
- A persistent pain in the face or jaw
- Numbness of the tongue or face
- Persistent nose bleeds and blocked or stuffy nose
- Persistent white or red patches on the inside lining of the mouth or on the tongue
The Value of an Oral Examination
Most mouth cancers can be detected at an early stage by a simple screening examination as part of a regular dental check-up. If the dentist can find an obvious cause for the signs or symptoms, he or she may be able to treat promptly and check for signs of healing subsequently. Some signs may require a more detailed investigation including a biopsy or referral to a specialist centre. Regular dental check-ups are essential to prevent late diagnosis of mouth cancer.
Mouth cancer occurs more frequently in men than women, particularly in men over the age of 50. This trend is changing with the incidence in women, including younger women, increasing at a rate of 3% a year since 1994. Factors that can increase risk of mouth cancer include
- Smoking or tobacco chewing combined with heavy alcohol consumption, especially spirits
- Prolonged exposure of facial area to sunshine, especially amongst farmers and gardeners
- Working with certain chemicals or dusts increases risk of cancer in nasal area
- Human papilloma virus (HPV) through sexual contact can increase risk of mouth cancers
- A diet low in fruit and vegetables increases risk of mouth cancer
A good dental health routine, including regular dental check-ups combined with increased awareness of the signs and symptoms, can play an important role in the early detection and treatment of mouth cancers.
So yes, we at Lyons Financial Services will be delighted to talk to you about dental insurance, a valuable product that provides cover against dental fees that you incur. However we also hope that this article helps you to prevent or at least detect at an early stage any likelihood of mouth cancer. If we can help to keep you healthy, well then we’ve really done our job!
1. Irish Cancer Society: www.cancer.ie
2. The National Cancer Registry Ireland: www.ncri.ie
3. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov
4. The simple facts about Mouth Cancer; B.E.McCartan, Marie Keating Foundation: www.mariekeating.com