As a core member of the head and neck cancer team at Guy’s Hospital, London, Alastair diagnoses and treats over 100 cases of mouth cancer every year.
If you think you may have a mouth cancer, it’s vital that you see a specialist as soon as possible. Mouth cancers are relatively rare and sadly many patients have their treatment delayed because they have been falsely reassured by clinicians with little to no appropriate experience.
Previously the typical patient with a mouth cancer is someone who has been a smoker and consumed alcohol, but increasingly we are seeing patients who are younger and have no other risk factors. We would therefore advise you to seek an urgent opinion if you are concerned that you may have a mouth cancer.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek an urgent review from a mouth cancer specialist:
- A Persistent ulcer (that lasts 2 weeks or longer)
- A lump in the mouth
- Neck lumps
- White or red patches in the mouth
- Numbness affecting the mouth or lips
- Mobile teeth
- Difficulty swallowing
- A change in voice or speech
It is well established that outcomes are significantly better if cancers are caught at an early stage and we would encourage you to make an appointment if you are concerned. It is also our experience that many patients have been worrying for some time about lesions in their mouth, and many can be immediately reassured by Alastair.
How Alastair can help you
Alastair is a highly-trained microvascular reconstructive surgeon, and is at the forefront of innovation of reconstructive techniques, including the use of 3D printers to reduce the impact of surgery. He has also presented at major international conferences across the world and has multiple publications.
Alastair’s recent innovations have been to reduce side effects and improve outcomes for patients with head and neck cancer. These have included the development of scarless facial reconstruction and avoidance of neck scars.
As well as his work at Guy’s Hospital, he also has experience in treating very early cancers, or ‘pre-cancers’ (dysplasia) with laser surgery.
If you, or your referring doctor, suspect you may have a cancer, Alastair will usually be able to see you within just a few days, and perform all necessary tests within a week.
It should be noted that the above symptoms can be caused by other oral conditions. As a specialist in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Alastair Fry has experience of managing a wide range of oral conditions and can advise you the best way to proceed.
At your consultation, Alastair will take time to hear about the problems you’ve been having as well as perform an examination. Due to the extensive experience in a range of oral conditions in addition to mouth cancers, Alastair is often able to reassure and offer likely diagnosis at this point. Further tests such as biopsies and any scans can usually be performed at that time or at a time to suit.
In current treatment of mouth cancers, patients should expect to receive the best treatment outcomes in terms of survival whilst also maintaining the best possible quality of life in terms of appearance, speech and swallow.
If surgery is required this will be offered at the very best hospitals which include the London Bridge Hospital – rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – and the Bupa Cromwell hospital. You will be completely supported throughout your care and subsequent follow up.
Early or ‘Pre-cancers’
Sometimes mouth cancers arise in areas of abnormal mouth lining which we term dysplasias. These typically appear as white, red or mixed patches in the mouth which may or may not be painful. These lesions are usually graded after biopsy from mild to severe and carry a significant risk of turning in to mouth cancers ( up to 50% for some severe dysplasias ).
The key thing is that these lesions can offer a window of opportunity to stop the development of mouth cancer by early removal. Alastair can offer laser treatment to remove these lesions which causes minimal side effects and is well tolerated by patients.
Mouth Cancer Surgery
Mouth cancer surgery usually involves the removal of the primary tumour within the mouth, removal of the glands in the neck which are at risk of harbouring cancer cells via a neck dissection or Sentinel node biopsy, and reconstruction of the defect to improve swallow and speech.