New test to discover your risk of oral cancer

oral cancerA new test has been launched for people to work out their risk of getting oral cancer.

The test, developed by the Oral Health Foundation, asks five simple questions about lifestyles and offers a number based on those answers, the higher the number, the higher the risk of developing mouth cancer.

‘More than nine in 10 mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors and the only way to curb this risk is by quitting or reducing habits such as smoking and alcohol,’ Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, says.

‘Mouth cancer is still a relatively unknown disease, with many still unaware that you are able to develop cancer on the tongue, cheeks, lips, head and neck.

‘It is important to be aware that cancer could develop in this area of the body, especially if you regularly exposure yourself to lifestyle choices that have been linked with the disease.’

Oral cancer test

What is your risk of mouth cancer?

Scorecard: A = 10 points | B = 7 points | C = 3 points | D = 1 points


 1.       What is your smoking status?

 a. Heavy smoker  b. Moderate  c. Ex-smoker  d. Never smoked

 2.       How much alcohol do you drink in a week?

 a. 14+ units  b. 6-13 units  c. 1-5 units  d. Do not drink

 3.       How often do you have oral sex?

 a. Daily  b. Weekly  c. Monthly  d. Annually or less

 4.       How many portions of fish, fruit and vegetable do you have a day?

 a. 0  b. 1-4  c. 5-9  d. 10+

 5.       Do you use smokeless tobacco or chewing tobacco (paan, gutkha, betel nut)?

 a. Yes, often  b. Yes, occasionally  c. Ex-user  d. Never user

Your mouth cancer risk is….

0 – 5 Low

You seem to live a healthy lifestyle and are at low risk of developing mouth cancer. Risk is not totally diminished though so it is advised that you maintain regular visits to the dentist, as often as they recommend.

6 – 20 Moderate

Your risk of mouth cancer is relatively low but you could improve elements of your lifestyle to reduce your risk further. Try to reduce some habits, visit the dentist regularly and be alert to any unusual changes in the mouth.

21 – 30 Considerable

You could be at risk of mouth cancer due to frequently exposing yourself to a number of lifestyle choices associated with the disease. Cut down on these and try to improve your diet. Visit the dentist regularly and be more active in performing self-checks at home.

31 – 50 High

You could be at extreme risk of developing mouth cancer. It is important that you try to improve your health by adopting a healthier lifestyle. You might need more regular dental appointments due to your current choices and it is highly advised you begin a routine of self-examining your mouth at home for anything out of the ordinary.

Unaware of the risks

Most Brits don’t consider themselves to be at risk from oral cancer, new research has shown.

According to the study, carried out by the Oral Health Foundation, 78% of British adults don’t believe they are at risk of being diagnosed with oral cancer, despite admitting to smoking and drinking.

The study found 18% of respondents smoke, 48% drink alcohol on a regular basis, 31% believe they have an unhealthy diet and 11% have oral sex more than once a week.

‘While there are steps you can take to keep mouth cancer at bay, no cancer is totally preventable,’ Dr Ben Atkins, a trustee at the Oral Health Foundation, says.

‘Being diagnosed with mouth cancer remains fairly unlikely but could happen to anybody so it is really important to know what to look for and be proactive in looking for the early warnings signs.

‘Lookout for mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red or white patches and unusual lumps and swellings.

‘Places to check include the floor and roof of your mouth, inside of the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, head and neck.

‘If you notice any of these, please make an appointment with your dentist or doctor.’


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