The key aim of the month is to raise awareness of a disease where large amounts of the population are unable to identify the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer. This is especially important given that early detection is vital in ensuring patients can successfully overcome the disease.
Chief Executive of the BDHF, Dr Nigel Carter, said: “Survival rates from mouth cancer based on an early diagnosis are 90% compared to 50% if caught late. This is why it is so important that all dental professionals are aware of the signs, symptoms and contributing factors of mouth cancer and relay them onto patients during the visual examination part of their check-ups.
“Around 90% of mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors and certain risk factors increases chances of developing the disease, these include; smoking, alcohol and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
“Through dental professionals recognising these contributing factors in their patients they will be able to identify those most at risk and make them aware of how their lifestyle choices could be putting their health at risk.”
Mouth cancer incidence rates have risen 40% in the last decade alone, but survival rates have not improved in that time period. In fact, they’ve worsened: a fact that makes being “Mouthaware” that bit more important, according to Dr Carter.
He went on: “Despite lifestyle choices heavily influencing a patient’s risk of mouth cancer, it is important to remember that this disease can affect anyone. We need to ensure that we are checking all patients for the early warning signs of mouth cancer during every check-up.
“Signs of mouth cancers include; non-healing mouth ulcers, red or white patches in the mouth and any unusual lumps or swellings in the lips, tongue, cheeks or throat.
“Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by a dental professional, including dental hygienists and therapist, during a thorough mouth examination. Unfortunately, many people with mouth cancer go to their dentist or doctor too late; therefore, they need to be informed of the risk factors and signs early enough to make a difference.”