Yes, a pack of cigarettes is very expensive these days, but that is not what we are talking about. Instead we are concerned with your health. New research has found that smokers are three times more likely to have a particular STI that is linked to mouth cancer, and this could significantly increase their chances of developing some form of oral cancer.
In this latest study, researchers looked at 6,887 people and found oral HPV 16, which is a cancer-causing form of the human papilloma virus, was three times more prevalent in people who currently smoke in comparison to those who have already quit or who never used tobacco. The British Dental Health Foundation is hoping this information can be used to increase education for those who need it. Government initiatives have managed to get a considerable number of smokers to quit, but there are still many young people who are taking up the habit.
Mouth Cancer Action Month
This month is Mouth Cancer Action Month, and health professionals are keen to raise awareness of this disease, and the risk factors for developing it. It is hoped that if more people become aware that smoking and drinking alcohol to excess could increase their chances of developing mouth cancer, then they might be encouraged to quit these habits.
Three years ago, 6,767 people were diagnosed with some form of oral cancer in the UK, and around 50% will survive the cancer for five years or more. However this does depend on getting an early diagnosis, and is one of the problems with oral cancer as often the symptoms are easy to ignore or can only be picked up through a health professional examining the inside of your mouth. When mouth cancer is diagnosed later on, treatment can be far less effective and much more difficult to cope with.
No One Can Afford to Ignore Regular Oral Cancer Screenings
Whether you smoke or not, or have any other known risk factor for oral cancer, it still important to get regular screenings, and the best person to provide these is your family dentist. Dentists have been trained to spot signs of changes to the tissues in the oral cavity, and some may use special lights to detect any cells that require further investigation. An oral cancer screening is very quick and completely painless, and you might not even notice it happening. But what happens if you don’t visit your dentist very frequently, or do not have a dentist at the moment? Ideally you would get this sorted out, and try to book regular check-ups that will include a screening for oral cancer.
What Can You Do If You Don’t Have a Dentist?
If you don’t have a dentist, you can still carry out self-checks every month. This simply means becoming aware of any changes to the inside of your mouth, particularly any patches of skin that have changed colour or texture. It is a good idea to seek professional advice if you happen to notice any lumps or bumps or any red or white patches in your mouth. Another common sign is having a lesion or mouth sore that doesn’t heal up after a couple of weeks or so, or noticing you have difficulty in swallowing or that it feels as if you got something caught in your throat. The motto of the British Dental Health Foundation is “if in doubt, get checked out.”