1 October 2019

The Oral Health Foundation is building up to this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month by calling on everybody to be ‘mouthaware’.

Taking place throughout November, the charity campaign will be raising awareness of mouth cancer and improving education around how to spot the early signs and symptoms of the disease.

More than 8,300 people in the United Kingdom are now diagnosed with mouth cancer every year.  This figure has increased by 49% in the last decade. 

Latest reports show that mouth cancer claimed 2,722 lives in the UK last year.  Many of these are because the disease is caught too late.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes everybody needs to be aware of any unusual changes in the mouth and know what to do if anything out of the ordinary is noticed.

Dr Carter says: “The first line of defence against mouth cancer is yourself.  Being able to identify mouth cancer at an early stage is vital for you being able to beat it.

“We should all be checking our mouth regularly for mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks. Red and white patches in the mouth and lumps and swellings in the head and neck are other possible signs of mouth cancer.

“If you spot something that doesn’t look normal, take action.  If in doubt, get checked out by your dentist or doctor.  The decision could save your life.”

Mouth cancer awareness in the UK remains low.  According to the latest State of Mouth Cancer UK Report, three-in-four (75%) adults are unaware of the major symptoms of mouth cancer.  More than four-in-five (82%) admit to not being confident checking for signs of the disease.

Findings from the report showed that knowledge about what causes mouth cancer is also concerning.

While the disease can affect anyone, most are linked to a series of risk factors including smoking, drinking alcohol to excess and the human papillomavirus (HPV).

“Even if it means not making direct changes to your lifestyle, knowing about your level of risk is important,” adds Dr Carter.

“It should mean that you are more vigilant at home and check your mouth often for anything out of the ordinary.  Having dental visits more often would also be a sensible precaution.

“Mouth Cancer Action Month is all about learning more about mouth cancer.  It’s the perfect opportunity to start checking your mouth at home and rethinking some of the things that might put you at greater risk.”  

For more information, including advice and information for how to get involved, how to spot risk factors and common signs and symptoms, as well as learning about the stories at the heart of the campaign, visit www.mouthcancer.org.