Despite being the 6th most common cancer in the world, many people are not aware of the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer. On average, 7 people per day died of mouth cancer in the UK last year and, according to the State of Mouth Cancer UK report 2020/21, occurrences have increased drastically by 97% in the past 20 years in the UK alone. Worryingly, since the beginning of lockdown, mouth cancer referrals have fallen by 65%.

As November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, we want to make sure that you are aware of both the common signs and symptoms of mouth cancer and also the common causes.

Unlike many other cancers, often mouth cancer is directly related to lifestyle decisions, meaning that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it. Do you know what the main risk factors are?

Mouth cancer risk factors

  • Smoking tobacco increases your risk of mouth cancer up to 10 times.
  • Drinking alcohol excessively is linked to nearly one third of all mouth cancer cases. Guidelines recommended a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week.
  • UV radiation, which is emitted by the sun, is a cause of skin cancer which can develop on the lips. Use SPF to make sure that you are protecting your skin, even if it isn’t sunny outside.
  • Chewing smokeless tobacco such as snuff, gutka and betel is also linked to cases of mouth cancer.
  • The HPV virus, which is spread through oral sex is now one of the most common causes of mouth cancer.
  • Nearly one third of cases are linked to a poor diet which lacks vitamins and minerals.

Know the signs

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of mouth cancer that you should be aware of are mouth and tongue ulcers that don’t heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and lumps or swelling in the mouth, head and neck area.

As with all cancers, early detection is vital, so make sure you visit your dentist if you are concerned and keep up with your regular checkups.

Due to the closure of dentist surgeries and the limiting of appointment throughout 2020 and 2021 it is thought that many cases of mouth cancer may have been missed or found later than they could have been.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms, please don’t delay; get in touch and book an appointment today.


Call 01482 565488 to book an appointment.