Posted by Yvonne Wallace
The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) is encouraging dental practices to hold free mouth cancer screening sessions throughout November as part of Mouth Cancer Awareness Month.
It is part of the wider national campaign, which runs between November 1st and November 30th and has been an annual fixture over the last decade.
Last year, 200 practices signed up to offer the screenings – despite over 1,000 registering their interest in supporting the drive.
Combined with dental marketing, the screening sessions can form part of a wider strategy to encourage more patients to visit their dentist.
The events can literally be the difference between life and death, according to the BDHF. The organisation says that encouraging people to get screened can greatly increase their chance of catching the disease early.
Most people diagnosed typically present as stage four, which is where timing can be critical as it is the most advanced stage.
Up to 90 per cent of cases that are diagnosed early will be able to defeat the disease and survive. However, those who fail to recognise the symptoms early on see their survival rate fall to 50 per cent.
BDHF chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said: “We know organising a screening event can pose a few logistical questions and that’s why our campaign website has a dedicated page to help you.”
On the page, dentists are provided with a factsheet to help them with all they need to know about arranging a session.
Dental professionals are also encouraged to use social media in order to get patients involved with the screening events.
Another piece of advice being given is not to hesitate anyone who may actually present symptoms of mouth cancer, as “it could save their life”.
In the latest statistics available – from 2010 – cases of the disease were at their highest they have ever been, exceeding 6,500.