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Around 4000 new cases of mouth and oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in the UK every year, these include the throat, soft tissues of the mouth (lips and cheeks) or tongue. When you are caring for someone it is important to check the mouth regularly. This can be done whilst putting denture in and out or cleaning the teeth. If you notice something unusual record it in the care plan. Make a note of the size, shape and appearance and ask if there is any pain. If possible take a photo and ensure you check it every couple of days. If the area is getting worse or getting no better in two weeks get it checked by a doctor or dentist

The early oral cancer is recognised and treated the greater the chances of long-term survival are. If you or someone you care for has been referred to hospital with a suspected oral cancer you can access reliable information on what to expect at the first appointment and support moving forward from cancerresearchuk.org

Certain people are more at risk of developing oral cancer. Risk increases with age, those who drink, those who smoke tobacco and chew tobacco. The greatest risk is in those who smoke and drink at the same time. Reduce these lifestyle risks by encouraging behavioural change. An increasing number of oral cancers have also been linked to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

The soft tissues of the mouth should be checked regularly;

- If you have an ulcer that doesn’t heal in three weeks get it checked by a dentist or doctor
- If you have a solid lump or under the tongue or in the tongue get it checked
- Pain or discomfort in the mouth that will not go away
- Ensure you check the mouth for the above abnormalities in those you are caring for
- And finally see a dental care professional at least once a year.