Dr Nigel Carter: Let's talk about mouth cancer
November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, your annual opportunity to spread vital awareness about the signs, symptoms and causes of mouth cancer and to make a difference.
You may not be aware of mouth cancer but as long-time campaigners for action on this terrible disease, the Oral Health Foundation is proudly committed to raising awareness of the disease; the values of early detection and prevention, as well as promoting the role a healthy lifestyle has in reducing our risk.
Being aware of mouth cancer is becoming increasingly important. Latest recorded figures show that more than 7500 Brits were diagnosed with mouth cancer in the last year. This averages out to roughly 21 people per day, meaning that one person every 69 minutes, is given the devastating news that they have mouth cancer.
Over the last decade cases of mouth cancer have risen by almost two fifths (39 per cent) and this does not look like slowing down soon, unless we can bring everybody together to raise better awareness of and education about this terrible disease. In the UK, mouth cancer takes more than 2000 lives every year, which is twice as many as both cervical and testicular cancers combined. Sadly, survival rates have failed to improve in the last 30 years and this is largely down to late diagnosis. We must improve knowledge of the disease and make everybody more mouth-aware by noticing and acting on the changes that could occur in their mouth.
This year we have a renewed focus on how a 45-second check can save someone’s life, we are promoting the need for people regularly self-check, much in the same way as breast or testicular cancer, to look signs of mouth cancer and be aware of what to do if they are worried by anything.
You need to be on the lookout for mouth ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, any red or white patches in your mouth and any unusual lumps of bumps in the head or neck area. If you see anything unusual make sure you see your dentist or doctor straight away.
We need your valuable backing help during this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month and ask you to spread awareness of the signs, symptoms and causes of mouth cancer during November and beyond.
We are asking to reach out to your friends and family, anybody really, to inform them about how they can get involved and support Mouth Cancer Action Month. With your help, we hope to reach more people than ever before with potentially lifesaving information. By being going out and speaking to people you are perfectly placed to affect many lives for the better.
A wide variety of resources to get involved in this year’s campaign are available to download via www.mouthcancer.org/downloads, including a full version of our Mouth Cancer Action Month Guide.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO Oral Health Foundation