November is mouth cancer awareness month

November is mouth cancer awareness month

Unfortunately, mouth cancer in the UK is on the rise. Here at Aigburth Dental Practice we fully support mouth cancer awareness programmes, and November is mouth cancer awareness month.

Did you know that whenever you attend for a check-up, your dentist doesn’t just examine your teeth, they will also be looking for any signs of illness or disease. That is why we recommend you visit your dentist regularly, even if you wear dentures. If your dentist sees something suspicious early on they can refer you to specialists who will be able to diagnose what is happening. Our dentists train regularly in how to spot oral cancer as early as possible.

The Oral Health foundation is trying to raise awareness of mouth cancer during the month of November using “blue lips”. Find out more at

Here are some symptoms to look out for courtesy of cancer research UK.

Ulcers that do not heal

A broken area in the lining of the mouth (ulcer) that will not heal is a common symptom of mouth cancer.

Pain in your mouth

Pain or discomfort in your mouth that doesn't go away is the other most common symptom of mouth cancer. 

Red or white patches in the mouth or throat

An abnormal looking patch could be a sign of cancer or precancerous changes:

  • White patches are called leukoplakia.
  • Red patches are called erythroplakia. 

These patches are not cancer, but if left untreated they may lead to cancer. 

Red and white patches in the mouth can also be caused by a fungal infection called thrush. The white patches usually rub off, leaving a sore red patch underneath. If you have anti fungal treatment, and the patches go away, they are not related to cancer. 

Difficulty swallowing

Mouth cancer can cause pain or a burning sensation when chewing and swallowing food. Or you might feel like your food is sticking in your throat. Difficulty swallowing can also be caused by a narrowing of the foodpipe (oesophagus). 

Speech problems

Cancer in your mouth or throat can affect your voice. Your voice might sound different. It may be quieter, husky, or sound as if you have a cold all the time. Or you might slur some of your words, or have trouble with pronouncing some sounds. 

A lump in your neck

You may have a lump in your neck caused by an enlarged lymph node. Swelling in one or more lymph nodes in the neck is a common symptom of mouth and orpharyngeal cancer. 

A hot red painful lump usually means an infection, rather than a cancer. Lumps that come and go are not usually due to cancer. Cancer usually forms a lump that slowly gets bigger. 

Weight loss

Weight loss is a common symptom of many different types of cancer. Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer can make it painful to eat and diffcult to swallow. This might cause weight loss. 

Extreme weight loss (when you are not dieting) can be a sign of advanced cancer. 

Bad breath

Most people have bad breath at some point in their life and it is not cancer. But if you have cancer, bad breath might be worse and happen more often. 

Other symptoms

These can include one or more of the following:

  • a lump or thickening of your lip 
  • a lump in your mouth or throat 
  • unusual bleeding or numbness in your mouth 
  • loose teeth for no clear reason 
  • difficulty moving your jaw