Mouth Cancer: How To Self-Check

Mouth cancer – also known as oral cancer – refers to a few different types of cancers that originate in the mouth. Mouth cancer can originate anywhere in the tongue, lips, the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth, cheeks or even gums. More than half the time mouth cancer occurs, it is because of smoking. Our Berwick dental clinic would like to take the time to shine some light on the serious topic of mouth cancer and how you can check yourself for signs.

Causes of mouth cancer

Approximately 59% of mouth cancer cases are caused by smoking. Another leading cause is alcohol consumption, which accounts for around 31% of cases. UV exposure contributes towards mouth cancer that originates on the lip – so be sure to always wear sunscreen and protect yourself adequately if you’re going out on a sunny day or when UV levels are high. Moderating your alcohol consumption and cutting down on your smoking habits can also drastically reduce your chances of developing mouth cancer. Other causes may include:

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV);
  • Epstein-Barr virus – which is commonly known as the cause of glandular fever;
  • Gum disease and poor oral hygiene;
  • Cold sores;
  • Poor diet;
  • Family history of mouth cancer; and
  • Sun exposure.


The symptoms of mouth cancer

Symptoms of mouth cancer can vary from minor annoyances to more serious issues that can impact your day-to-day life. Some of these symptoms are:

  • A visible lump in your neck – this lump may or may not be painful;
  • Permanent ulcer;
  • Constant blood blister;
  • Bleeding that occurs from the lump or ulcer;
  • Sensation loss in your mouth;
  • Trouble swallowing;
  • Red and white patches around your oral tissues;
  • Restricted tongue mobility;
  • Your jaw is difficult to move;
  • Speech slurring;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Loose teeth;
  • Swollen lymph glands; and
  • Altered taste.


How to check yourself

  1. The first thing you’ll have to do is make sure you’re in front of a mirror and have a bright torch to help you see.
  2. If you have any dentures, remove them.
  3. Look at and feel inside your lips as well as the front of your mouth.
  4. Look at and feel the roof of your mouth – you may have to tilt your head back to make it easier to do so.
  5. Inspect the inside of your cheeks and your gums.
  6. Inspect the top and bottom of your tongue by pulling it out.
  7. Feel your neck and lower jaw for lumps or enlarged lymph glands.

When performing a self-check, you’re looking out for white patches, red patches and sometimes both colours together – as well as abnormal lumps or sores/ulcers that are bleeding easily and don’t seem to heal. The symptoms listed above should also be checked for.

If you see something that you think could be a symptom of mouth cancer, then you should book an appointment with a specialist immediately. The longer you wait, the worse it could become. There is an 80%-90% survival rate when mouth cancer is identified in the early stages.


Mouth cancer treatment

Treatment for mouth cancer varies depending on where exactly the cancer is located as well as how large it is, and how far it has spread.

  • Surgery – If there is a small tumour, then it may be surgically removed. The lymph glands may also have to be removed if the tumour has spread to them.
  • Radiation therapy – Ionised radiation doses bombard the cancer cells in the hopes of destroying them.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with the previous two methods and can be used to shrink the tumour before surgically removing it.

These are the three primary types of treatments that may be employed should mouth cancer arise. Specialised therapy may also be an option for post-operative patients and will include things like dieting advice, speech therapy and the use of clinical psychologists to assist people in adapting to any changes in their lives due to treatments.


Looking for a Berwick dental clinic?

Mouth cancer is a serious and common disease in Australia. Here at Eden Rise Dental, we can help you check for signs of mouth cancer if you are unsure or uncomfortable with performing the check yourself. Our Berwick dental clinic is run by experienced and high-qualified dentists that can perform a range of dental services and provide a wealth of knowledge when it comes to oral health and hygiene.

If you would like to know more about our Berwick dental clinic and the services we offer, then please get in touch with us by calling (03) 9702 6111. You may also contact us by filling out the enquiry form on our website.