16 November 2009
It's Mouth Cancer Awareness Week 2009, so why not take this opportunity to find out what you can do to lower your risk of developing head or neck cancer.
According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation , the number of cases of mouth cancer in young people is rising. Drinking and smoking increases the risk of mouth cancers and students are being warned against binge drinking and smoking. Individuals indulging in both face a 30 times greater risk than abstainers.
'In its very early stages, mouth cancer can be almost invisible, making it easy to ignore. Cancers can occur in any part of the mouth, tongue, lips, and adjacent areas like the throat, salivary glands, pharynx, larynx, sinus, and other sites in the head and neck area,' says the Mouth Cancer Foundation.
The most common symptoms of head and neck cancer include:
- an ulcer or sore area in the head or neck that does not heal within a few weeks difficulty in swallowing, or pain when chewing or swallowing
- trouble with breathing or speaking, such as persistent noisy breathing, slurred speech or a hoarse voice
- a numb feeling in the mouth or on the lips
- an unexplained loose tooth
- a persistent blocked nose, or nose bleeds
- a constant sore throat and earache affecting one side
- ringing in the ear, or difficulty in hearing
- a swelling or lump in the mouth or neck
- pain in the face or upper jaw
- pre-cancerous changes can occur in the lining of the mouth, or on the tongue. These can appear as persistent white patches or red patches. They are usually painless but can sometimes be sore and may bleed.
Make sure you're aware of the causes and risk factors of mouth cancer by checking out our information about types of head and neck cancer , including details about diagnosis and treatment, and the after effects of surgery.
Treatment for mouth cancer can have side effects including altering what you can eat, the way you look and how you speak. If you've been affected by any type of head and neck cancer, you might like join our online community group and share your experiences with others.
You can also join in the discussion about mouth cancer on Macmillan's Yahoo! Answers thread .