Mouth cancer under the spotlight
Monday 30th November, 2009
People in West Sussex are being urged to take care of their oral health as part of Mouth Cancer Action Month this month.
The campaign is using the ‘If in doubt, get checked out’ slogan during the campaign, which runs from 1-30 November, to raise awareness of the main risk factors for mouth cancer.
Figures show 5,000 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer annually and 2,000 die of the disease every year – that works out at one death every five hours.
The British Dental Health Foundation says better awareness and early detection saves lives and early diagnosis improves survival chances to more than 90 per cent.
Tobacco and alcohol are responsible for 75 per cent of mouth cancers, with people who drink and use tobacco up to 30 more times likely to develop the condition. A third of mouth cancer cases are found in the mouth cavity and a quarter are found in the tongue.
There is also a growing threat of mouth cancers caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), contracted through oral sex.
The warning signs for mouth cancer include ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and lumps and swellings.
A visit to the dentist for mouth cancer screening and an increased knowledge of self-examination can transform survival rates.
Thelma Edwards, West Sussex Community Personal Dental Services Oral Health Promotion Co-ordinator, said: “It is concerning that the latest statistics show a 13 per cent increase in the past decade – 1,851 deaths in 2007 (one death every five hours in the UK).
“The campaign poster is very clear and advises that early detection saves lives, improving survival chances from just over 50 per cent to more than 90 per cent.
“Drinkers, smokers and those who chew tobacco are most at risk. People need to speak to their dentist, doctor or pharmacist if they are concerned about mouth ulcers that don’t heal or notice white or red patches or other unusual changes in the mouth.”
For information and advice on finding an NHS dentist, please call 0300 1000 899. Or you can contact the British Dental Health Foundation’s National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188.