Queensway Dental Clinic

170 Queensway, Billingham, Teesside TS23 2NT. Tel. 01642 554 667

Mouth Cancer

At Queensway at every check-up you will be screened for mouth cancer. Please ask your dentist or a member of the reception team for more information.

If your dentist finds something unusual or abnormal they will refer you to a consultant at the local hospital, who will carry out a thorough examination of your mouth and throat. A small sample of the cells may be gathered from the area (a biopsy), and these cells will be examined under the microscope to see what is wrong.

If the cells are cancerous, more tests will be carried out. These may include overall health checks, blood tests, x-rays or scans. These tests will decide what course of treatment is needed.

If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are good, and the smaller the area or ulcer the better chance of a cure. However, too many people come forward too late, because they haven’t visited their dentist for regular examinations.

Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and women. There are, on average, over 4,400 new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed in the UK each year. The number of new cases of mouth cancer is on the increase.

Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are the main forms of tobacco use in the UK. However, the traditional ethnic habits of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly dangerous.

Alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is even greater. Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.

Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. Mouth cancer can appear as a painless ulcer that does not heal normally. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer. It is important to visit your dentist if these areas do not heal within three weeks.

Read the joint statement from the British Society for Oral Medicine (BSOM) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) here.