‘If in doubt, check it out’ to be the message of Mouth Cancer Action Month
It’s a disease which has affected the lives of celebrities such as actor Michael Douglas, DJ Danny Baker and former England football captain Bryan Robson.
Mouth cancer kills more people in the UK than cervical and testicular cancer combined.
It’s a fact that the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) wants to make more people in the UK aware of – in an effort to make dentists, doctors and patients pick up on the warning signs of the disease far earlier.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), said: “These warning signs include ulcers which do not heal within three weeks; red and white patches in the mouth; and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth.”
To reinforce Dr Carter’s message, the BDHF is running Mouth Cancer Action Month in November.
A routine dental check-up such as those provided by London dentist Ethicare can identify problems which could suggest further examination from a doctor is require. Ethicare’s dental examination of new patients includes a standard oral cancer check.
According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, warning signs to look out for include:
- A sore or ulcer in the mouth which persists for more than three weeks
- Difficulty in chewing or moving the tongue or the mouth
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Swelling of the jaw which causes dentures to fit poorly
- Unexplained tooth mobility lasting more than three weeks
Over the next decade the BDHF believes that around 60,000 people in the UK will be diagnosed with mouth cancer. Two times as many men as women suffer from mouth cancer; the ratio used to be five-to-one yet medical experts seem at a loss to know why this might be.
The most common risk factors associated with mouth cancer are tobacco and excess alcohol use; these are thought to account for three out of every four cases of mouth cancer in Europe.
Cancer Research statistics show that heavy drinkers have a 5-10 times increased chance of developing cancer but it is thought that even drinking as little as one unit per day can increase the risk.
Individuals who use tobacco together with alcohol, Cancer Research says, are 30-times more vulnerable to cancer.
One in two people who contract mouth cancer will die, without early diagnosis. However, detection of the disease at an early stage can improve five year survival rates to 90 per cent.
It is a statistic which people like Michael Douglas, Danny Baker and Bryan Robson are probably well-aware of.
It is heartening to think that the mouth cancer sufferers mentioned at the start of this article all report that they are doing well in their fight against throat cancer – Robson “needs six month checks but the doctors are pleased with the surgery” he underwent; Douglas’s tumour has gone; and Danny Baker has been given the all-clear.
They would surely agree with the message of Mouth Cancer Awareness Month: “If in doubt, get checked out.”