Dental professionals up and down the country are gearing up for one of the most important campaigns of the year, Mouth Cancer Action Month. This year’s campaign, which is run by the Oral Health Foundation in conjunction with the Mouth Cancer Foundation, will launch on 1st November.
As November approaches, practices and health experts are encouraging patients to be mouth aware. Mouth cancer doesn’t have the media profile of other types of cancer, yet it kills more people in the UK than cervical and testicular cancer combined. In the last 10 years, the number of cases diagnosed in Britain has risen by almost 50%.
One of the most pressing problems for health professionals is a lack of awareness about oral cancer. Many people are aware of the symptoms of cervical, breast and bowel cancer, for example, but surveys suggest that a worrying proportion of people don’t even know that oral cancer exists. Around 75% of people do not know what kinds of symptoms to look out for, and this means that the vast majority of cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage. While survival rates have improved significantly for other types of cancer in recent years, progress for oral cancer has stalled and this is largely due to the fact that patients are diagnosed late.
As Mouth Cancer Action Month looms, dentists and doctors are encouraging patients to look out for signs such as abnormal lumps and swelling in the mouth and throat, white and red patches, unexplained oral pain or bleeding and ulcers that take a long time to heal. Dental professionals are also keen to promote regular routine check-ups, which include oral cancer checks as standard, and to urge patients to get involved in initiatives run as part of this year’s campaign. Practices will be offering free screening checks and many are also staging events and hosting activities to raise funds for mouth cancer charities and get patients talking about this potentially deadly disease.
For more information about Mouth Cancer Action Month, visit www.mouthcancer.org.