Mouth Cancer Action Month

Here at College Dental Surgeries we are proud to be supporting this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month. Every time you attend for a routine dental appointment, we perform a mouth cancer check to ensure any problems are identified early as with any cancer the early mouth cancer is detected the better the chance of survival.

We do not know what causes most mouth cancers, however there are several factors that are likely to increase your risk.

  • Smoking

Smoking tobacco increases your risk of developing mouth cancer by up to ten times, compared with never-smokers. This includes smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars. Around two in every three (more than 60%) mouth cancers are linked to smoking.

  • Alcohol

Drinking alcohol to excess also increases your risk of developing mouth cancer.  UK guidelines recommend a maximum of 14 units of alcohol a week for both men and women. Alcohol is linked to just under a third (30%) of all mouth cancers.

Smoking and drinking together increases the risk of mouth cancer by up to 30 times.

  • HPV

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a major cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body.  HPV can be spread through oral sex, and research suggests that it could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer.

  • Chewing and smokeless tobacco

Smokeless tobacco is any tobacco product that is placed in the mouth or nose and not burned. The types of smokeless tobacco products most used contain a mix of ingredients including slaked lime, areca nut and spices, flavourings, and sweeteners. Chewing and smokeless tobacco is extremely harmful and can significantly increase a person’s risk of being diagnosed with mouth cancer.

  • Diet

Around a third of mouth cancers are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet and a lack of vitamins and minerals.

  • Sunlight and sunbeds

Too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a known cause of skin cancer. This can occur either from natural sunlight or sunbeds. Skin cancer can develop on the lips – as this area is often exposed to UV radiation.

  • Family history, genetics, and the immune system

Although we do not know why, there is a slight increase in risk of mouth cancer if you have a close relative diagnosed with the disease.


There’s no proven way to prevent mouth cancer. However, you can reduce your risk of mouth cancer if you:

  • Stop using tobacco or don’t start– Using tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation– Chronic excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in your mouth, making them vulnerable to mouth cancer.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips – Protect the skin on your lips from the sun by staying in the shade when possible and apply a sunscreen lip product as part of your routine sun protection regimen.
  • See your dentist regularly – Every time you attend for a routine dental appointment at College Dental Surgeries we will perform a mouth cancer check.

If you are concerned about any changes in your mouth or would like to book in for a routine dental appointment, call College Dental Surgeries on 01622 752340 today. Remember: If in doubt, Get check out!