Oral cancer checks should be provided as part of a routine dental check-up, but the HNCF is urging patients to make sure that their dentists are carrying out the assessment as standard. Looking for signs of oral cancer takes less than a minute, and should be included in the price of a regular dental check.
Research conducted by the HNCF in conjunction with YouGov suggested that many patients are unsure whether or not their dentist included oral cancer screening in routine checks. In a survey of patients in Wales, only 50% of adults go to the dentist every 6 months, and more than half said that they weren’t sure if their dentist had carried out an oral cancer check at their last appointment. Patients should be aware of oral cancer checks, as a dentist may say that they’re looking for potential symptoms, and they will also use an instrument to pull the tongue to one side and then the other and to look at the gums and the lips for signs of abnormalities.
CEO of the foundation, Michelle Vickers, said that most of us are unaware of the role dentists play in the early detection of oral cancer, a form of cancer that has become more prevalent in the last decade. Dentists are trained to provide routine oral cancer checks as part of standard check-ups, and those who miss out on appointments could therefore be putting themselves at risk.
To make people more aware of oral cancer and encourage patients to ask their dentist for mouth cancer checks, the HNCF has launched a new campaign called Get Mouthy About Cancer. The idea is simple and involves patients asking their dentist for a routine cancer check. Many people are aware of the signs and symptoms of other types of cancer, but there’s a serious lack of knowledge and awareness linked to mouth cancer, which is resulting in the majority of cases being diagnosed at an advanced stage. Routine checks help to identify changes that could signal oral cancer, increasing the chances of early diagnosis and successful treatment.