May 2016 Newsletter: Oral Cancer – am I at risk?

 

This Month’s Newsletter Topics:
1. Oral Cancer – am I at risk?
2. Safety First
3. Fun Fact

Oral Cancer – am I at risk?
Oral cancer is on the increase and is something that we take very seriously. There are about 6,800 people diagnosed in the UK each year. Mouth and oropharangeal cancers are around twice as common in men than in women. We want to let you know what to look out for and how to make the best lifestyle choices to help minimise your own personal risk.

As a part of your examination or check up we do a thorough mouth cancer screen. We check all of your soft tissues inside and outside of the mouth. It is important to regularly attend even if you have dentures so that all soft tissues can be assessed.

So who is more at risk?
Smoking and drinking are the main risk factors in the western world. Both alcohol and cigarettes contain nitrosamines and other chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
Chewing tobacco or paan is also a risk factor and is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. The tobacco and paan can be in contact with the gums and tongue for long periods of time.
Poor diet can put you at risk if you are low on minerals, vitamins, folic acid and iron. This is because it can cause breakdown of the oral mucosa. A well balanced diet with antioxidant vitamins will help prevent this.
Human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cell mutations especially a particular strain called HPV16 that can make cells more likely to become cancerous. This can be passed on through sexual activity and oral sex in particular. The risk increases with the number of sexual partners a person has. Smoking also increases the risk of the HPV infection in the mouth.
Sunlight and sunbeds give off UV rays. Unprotected skin (especially the lip) is at risk of developing cancer.
Family history can be a risk factor although the reason for this is unclear.
Previous cancer patients have a risk of developing a second cancer

What to look for:
Ulcers that do not heal
Persistent discomfort or pain in the mouth
White or red patches in the mouth or throat
Difficulty swallowing
Speech problems
A lump in the neck
Weight Loss
Bad breath
Unusual bleeding or coughing up blood
Numbness
Loose teeth for no reason
Swelling causing loose dentures

Information and statistics courtesy of Cancer Research UK

Safety First
Some members of the team have recently attended an intermediate life support course and brought back some excellent knowledge to share with the rest of practice. As a team we regularly keep up to date with first aid and life support, and we have a defibrillator on site for medical emergencies.

Chew on this fun fact!
Foods that make the people of Britain smile the most:

1. Chocolate
2. Roast Dinner
3. Curry
4. Fry up

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