Are you Mouth Cancer Aware?

Are you Mouth Cancer Aware?

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month – an important initiative aimed at raising awareness of the disease among dentists as well as the general population.

In the UK, 1 in 55 men and 1 in 108 women will be diagnosed with oral cancer in their lifetime, with cases on the rise – and many of those diagnoses come after a problem is flagged up by the individual’s dental surgeon.

With early detection and treatment, the prognosis for people with oral cancers is usually good, which is why it’s so crucial to recognize the symptoms early.


Things to look out for

Cancers of the mouth and throat can present symptoms similar to many other common ailments, which is why Mouth Cancer Action Month has adopted the slogan ‘If in doubt, get checked out’. Signs can include:

  • Mouth ulcers that don’t heal in three weeks
  • Red and/or white patches in the mouth that don’t’ respond to thrush treatments
  • Pain or a burning sensation
  • A lump in the mouth or neck
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Persistent and severe bad breath



It’s not known exactly what causes mouth and throat cancers but there are some health and lifestyle factors that can increase the risk. Quite a large percentage of pharyngeal (throat) cancers are preventable. Risk factors include:

  • Smoking (thought to cause about 60% of mouth and throat cancers)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Chewing tobacco
  • The HPV virus
  • Weak immune system due to immunosuppressive drugs (e.g. after an organ transplant)
  • Previous or family history of oral cancer


As professionals within the oral health sector it is our responsibility to ensure we promote healthy lifestyles and support initiatives designed to increase awareness of oral cancers. For further information and some useful downloadable resources for your dental surgery, visit