The Oral Health Foundation is asking everyone to be “mouth aware” as it prepares for Mouth Cancer Action Month in November, with an aim to improve education around how to spot the early signs and symptoms of the disease.
“The first line of defense against mouth cancer is yourself. Being able to identify mouth cancer at an early stage is vital for you being able to treat it,” said Dr. Nigel Carter, OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation.
“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,” Carter said.
“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,” Carter said.
According to the Oral Health Foundation, more than 8,300 people in the United Kingdom are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year. This figure has increased by 49% in the last decade. Last year, 2,722 people died of mouth cancer in the United Kingdom, many because the disease was caught too late.
Yet awareness of the disease remains low in the United Kingdom, with 75% of adults unaware of the major symptoms and 82% admitting to not being confident about checking for signs of the disease, according to the latest State of Mouth Cancer UK Report.
The causes of mouth cancer also are concerning, the Oral Health Foundation says. While the disease can affect anyone, most diagnoses are linked to 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. 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,” said Carter.
“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,” said Carter.
Know Your Leukoplakias to Identify Oral Cancer
NYU to Study Artemin’s Role in Oral Cancer Pain
Grant to Support Development of Oral Cancer Detection Technology