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In the last year, approximately 8400 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer. Mouth Cancer Action Month runs through November to raise awareness of the disease and to encourage early diagnosis through education of the risk factors, as well as signs and symptoms of the disease.

Risk Factors

We know that smoking is bad for our health in many ways, and it can increase your chances of developing mouth cancer by ten times, compared to a non-smoker. There is also evidence to suggest that second-hand smoke at home or in the workplace may also increase a person’s risk of mouth cancer.

Alcohol is a big risk factor. When combined with smoking, your risk of developing mouth cancer can treble.

Around a third of mouth cancers are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet and lack of vitamins and minerals. A well-balanced diet, filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables, omega 3 and high fibre foods is recommended to help reduce your risk.

A history of cancer will also affect your risk of developing mouth cancer. If you have previously had it, you are more likely to develop it again. Your risk will also be increased if you have previously suffered with:

· Squamous cell skin cancer

· Oesophagus cancer

· Penile cancer

· Cervical cancer

· Anal cancer

Signs and Symptoms

Mouth cancer can strike a number of places, including the lips, tongue, gums and cheeks. It is important that we know what to look for and when to seek advice. Please book an appointment with your dentist or doctor if you notice any of the following:

· Ulcers which do not heal

· Red and white patches in the mouth

· Lumps or swelling in the mouth or head and neck area

If in doubt, get checked out

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