A BOLTON dentist, True Dentistry, is urging local people to check for the common symptoms of oral cancer to coincide with a national awareness month in November.
Dr Lubna Alam-Orths says that there is no national screening programme for mouth or oropharyngeal cancer. “Unfortunately, this cancer is diagnosed in 5,000 people annually in this country and kills almost 2,000 each year,” she explained. “In the past 10 years, cases of oral cancer have increased by 36.3%.”
There are two main causes, stated Dr Alam-Orths who runs True Dentistry. “Viral infection with particular strains of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) is now considered the fastest-growing cause or oral cancer and occurs typically in younger people, often non-smokers.
“The second cause, usually among patients aged 40-plus, involves smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, diet and lifestyle.”
The two most common symptoms of mouth cancer are an ulcer in the mouth that will not heal, and discomfort or pain that won’t go away.
Other symptoms include: a white or red patch in the mouth or throat that will not go away; a lump or thickening on the lip or in the mouth or throat; difficulty or pain with chewing or swallowing; a feeling that something is caught in the throat; unusual bleeding or numbness in the mouth, or loose teeth.
“There are medical conditions that cause abnormal areas in the mouth or throat which are harmless to begin with but, if left untreated, can turn into cancer,” warned Dr Alam-Orths.
These include leukoplakia which causes white patches in the mouth, and erythroplakia which is a slightly raised red area in the mouth that bleeds easily.
“All forms of oral cancer can be painless at first” she added, “and the symptoms are easily missed in the early stages. But these can be picked up by your dentist or doctor.
“Regular dental check-ups, even if you have false teeth, are very important and screening is highly effective.”
As part of the national awareness campaign, Dr Alam-Orths is offering free screening sessions at her Chorley New Road surgery on Thursday, November 17th
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