One of the main dangers of mouth cancer is the lack of awareness that surrounds it. The UK public simply don’t understand how to recognise the symptoms of the disease, which can lead to it going untreated for too long. As with all cancers, catching it early on is crucial to increasing the survival rate.
In a bid to improve awareness of the disease, leading oral healthcare charity the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) is preparing to launch a month-long campaign alongside charity partner the Mouth Cancer Foundation. November will be known as ‘Mouth Cancer Action Month’, with those involved with dental healthcare campaigning to improve the UK public’s knowledge of the disease.
The main message being promoted by the campaign is “if in doubt, get checked out”. This refers to the number of people who display signs of oral cancer but do not visit their dentist or GP. These symptoms can include mouth ulcers that remain for more than two weeks, or patches of redness or discolouration around the mouth.
Dr Nigel Carter, the BDHF’s chief executive, said: “If the dental and wider health profession can inform and urge patients to regularly attend dental check-ups, we can increase the chances of mouth cancer being detected at an early stage.
“The good news is that if mouth cancer is caught early enough then the chances of survival substantially increase. Encouraging patients to perform self-diagnosis… can also help towards early detection.”
Mouth cancer affects around 6,767 new people every year, which isn’t a huge amount compared to other cancers. However, the lack of awareness surrounding the disease means the fatality rate is quite high. More people die from oral cancer than from testicular and cervical cancer combined.
Hopefully, raising awareness of the disease with Mouth Cancer Action Month will help more people notice it before it has a chance to become fatal. Dentists, doctors and pharmacists are all being encouraged to contribute to the campaign and make sure their patients are informed about the dangers of oral cancer.