16 November 2016

The House of Commons was tinged with blue yesterday [15 November] as hundreds of people attended an event in support of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month.

The event was attended by those personally effected by mouth cancer, Members of Parliament, the dental and wider health profession and supporters and campaigners of mouth cancer action. All who came together to add their collective voice to the ongoing fight against one of the UK’s most increasingly prominent cancers.

At the start of proceedings President of the Oral Health Foundation, Janet Goodwin, was presented with the new presidential chain by honorary lifetime President Daniel Davis.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, spoke at the event about the increase in mouth cancer cases in recent years and how important Mouth Cancer Action Month is in bringing the issue to a wide audience: “In the UK, more than 7,500 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year, that is why every year we try to raise public awareness of the signs, symptoms and causes of this truly awful disease.

“Mouth Cancer Action Month is an important opportunity to raise vital public awareness of the disease and potentially catch many hundreds of cases in the future before it is too late.

Esteemed keynote speaker Professor Michael Lewis PhD, Dean of the School of Dentistry at Cardiff University, addressed the attending dignitaries highlighting the importance of urgent mouth cancer action.

Professor Lewis drew attention to the emerging trends in mouth cancer, including the growing evidence that more women and younger people being diagnosed with the disease. He also highlighted that size does indeed matter when it comes to mouth cancer as a patients survival chances based upon when cases are diagnosed, showing that early diagnosis significantly improves a patient’s prognosis.

He also called upon everybody to add their support to the important campaign for a gender-neutral HPV vaccination which has the potential to save thousands of lives lost to mouth cancer in the future.

Mouth Cancer Action Month, organised by the UK’s leading oral health charity, Oral Health Foundation, gave special thanks to the Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Beresford MP, for giving then the platform to bring their important fight to the heart of the UK government. Sir Beresford officially opened the event and appealed for the support of his fellow MP’s in the ongoing battle with mouth cancer.

Those in attendance also heard from Denplan’s Head of Professional Support Services, Dr Catherine Rutland, who focused on the need for dental professionals to encourage discussion and open dialogue with their patients about the risks of mouth cancer.

Dr Rutland said: “Cancer can be an emotional and difficult subject to talk about, but the tools we give dentists during Mouth Cancer Action Month can be used throughout the year to help broach this subject. As dentists, we are in a unique position to send out the message of prevention year-round.”

Sarah Bradbury of Dentists’ Provident and Alison Reid, a member of the Association of Dental Groups, also addressed the room in support of the month-long campaign.

Mouth Cancer Action Month is an annual charity campaign which raises awareness of mouth cancer and aims to make a difference by saving thousands of lives through early detection and prevention.

Throughout November it aims to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by increasing education on the risk factors and signs and symptoms while encouraging everybody to discuss them with their friends, family and health professionals.