05 October 2015

Mouth Cancer Action Month is taking place during November and the UK’s leading oral health charity want to ensure that everyone is ‘Mouthaware’ by being able to recognise the early signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

Organised by the British Dental Health Foundation, Mouth Cancer Action Month aims to save lives through early detection and increase education and knowledge about a disease which awareness of still remains worryingly low.

It is important that patients understand the risk factors behind mouth cancer and are vigilant about recognising changes in their mouth.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, highlighted the importance of being Mouthaware: “Survival rates from mouth cancer based on an early diagnosis are 90 per cent compared to 50 per cent if caught late.  This is why it is so important that all dental professionals are aware of the signs, symptoms and contributing factors of mouth cancer and relay them onto patients during the visual examination part of their check-ups.

“Around 90 per cent of mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors and certain risk factors increase chances of developing the disease, these include; smoking, alcohol and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

“Through dental professionals recognising these contributing factors in their patients they will be able to identify those most at risk and make them aware of how their lifestyle choices could be putting their health at risk.”

Mouth cancer is one of the UK’s fastest increasing cancers, with cases up by almost 40 per cent in the last decade alone. Dental professionals are on the frontline in the fight against mouth cancer and their support and participation remains instrumental in helping to combat a disease which kills more people every year than testicular and cervical cancer combined.

Unfortunately survival rates for those with mouth cancer have not improved in the last 20 years and it is one of the few cancers which has seen an increase in the past decade.  By being ‘Mouthaware’ and by spotting mouth cancer early enough, patients are given the best possible chance to be successfully treated and have a good quality of life.

“Despite lifestyle choices heavily influencing a patient’s risk of mouth cancer, it is important to remember that this disease can affect anyone.  We need to ensure that we are checking all patients for the early warning signs of mouth cancer during every check-up,” added Dr Carter.

“Signs of mouth cancers include; non-healing mouth ulcers, red or white patches in the mouth and any unusual lumps or swellings in the lips, tongue, cheeks or throat.

“Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by a dental professional, including dental hygienists and therapist, during a thorough mouth examination. Unfortunately, many people with mouth cancer go to their dentist or doctor too late; therefore, they need to be informed of the risk factors and signs early enough to make a difference.”

To find out how to be Mouthaware please visit http://www.mouthcancer.org/are-you-mouthaware/ and to support Mouth Cancer Action Month please visit www.mouthcancer.org/register to support the campaign and receive your free registration pack.