Mouth Cancer Action Month

Polymorphus Low-Grade Adenocarcinoma. Those four words would mean little to most people but to 59 year-old Carole Moors from Dorset, those four words changed her life forever.

Carole says she first noticed something was wrong when she felt an odd sensation on the roof of her mouth. She struggles to describe it but says it felt similar to how the roof of your mouth feels after you’ve drunk something too hot.

Despite the odd sensation, she was not in pain. Concerned, she went to her GP however it was dismissed and not taken to be a sign of anything serious. Her dentist didn’t pick up on it either.

It was not until 18 months later, in March 2016, when the issue got brought up again. She had an appointment with her doctor for an unrelated issue and she asked again about the roughness on the roof of her mouth which had still not gone away. This time the doctor arranged for her to be referred and a biopsy be taken. Sadly, she did not get good news.

Carole was told that she had Polymorphus Low-Grade Adenocarcinoma. This is cancer of the salivary glands which is commonly, but not exclusively, found in the palate of the mouth. This news came as a big shock to Carole who was a non-smoker and drunk alcohol only on the odd occasion.

There was a silver lining however, her cancer did not need chemotherapy. Instead, it was recommended to Carole that she undergo surgery to remove the tumour. The surgery was a long, 9-hour, operation which meant that she unfortunately had to lose a number of teeth and all of her soft palate.

Supporting Carole through this ordeal was her husband of 43 years, Gerald. Carole says that he, along with the rest of her family and friends, were vital in helping her stay strong through it all:

“I am so very grateful for all the support I received from my family. My husband, Gerald, was a rock. Thank you to my son, daughter-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law and my good friends who were there for me throughout it all.

“I would also like to thank my wonderful team at Poole General Hospital.”

“Sometimes it’s just little things that mean a lot when you’re going through something as horrible as mouth cancer. For example, my nephew John kept me going through the early days after my operation with homemade coffee ice-cream. And of course, I couldn’t go without the hugs and love from my grandchildren Kaitlin and Alex.”

Nowadays, Carole still suffers from the side affects of her treatment. Losing all of her soft palate has made drinking things much harder, for example:

“One of the issues I've had is that if I drink something too quickly it can go the wrong way as it were and come out of my nose. This can be quite embarrassing at times but my family are very understanding. I also can't drink anything too hot, not even a cup of tea.

“My speech has also been affected which can be very frustrating. The soft palate is especially important when making hard sounds in words, such as those containing a hard “b” sound or “g”. Therefore I do struggle to be understood at times.”

Despite it not being the case, Carole says that people still assume that cancer was brought on by herself:

“A lot of people think mouth cancer is only caused by smoking or drinking and therefore can only be brought on by yourself. While smoking and drinking to excess is a common cause of mouth cancer it does not mean that if you don’t do either you are immune to cancer.

“I hope the take away from my story is that anyone can be affected by mouth cancer and that if you spot anything unusual in your mouth to get it checked out. If in doubt, get checked out.”

For more information about mouth cancer, including how to spot the disease early, how to reduce your risk and what to do if you notice any of the early warning signs, visit