“If in doubt, get checked out” is one of the key messages this Mouth Cancer Action Month, as awareness of the symptoms and signs of this debilitating disease are unknown to large swathes of the population. Despite the relative skyrocketing of sufferers of the disease in recent times, the relative lack of awareness among the public has led to the British Dental Health Foundation supporting making everyone “mouthaware” so they can identify the risks and get checked out for this disease before it’s too late.
Mouth cancer is one of the UK’s fastest increasing cancers, with cases rising by a third in the last decade alone but the oral health charity know that too many are being diagnosed at a late stage, significantly reducing our chance to beat the disease.
Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the BDHF, said: “The number of people in the UK being diagnosed with mouth cancer every year is rapidly approaching 7,000. Sadly, through a lack of awareness and late diagnosis, far too many lives are lost to the disease. Survival rates have not improved in the last thirty years and mouth cancer now takes more lives than testicular and cervical cancer combined.
“A mouth ulcer that does not heal within three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area, can all be potential signs of mouth cancer so it’s important to be aware of any changes occurring inside your mouth.
“Early diagnosis transforms our chances of beating the disease from 50% to 90% so it is crucial that we know what to look out for and that we do not hesitate in seeking advice from a health professional.
“Quite often it is easier to notice lumps and bumps on the outside of the body or to dismiss a mouth ulcer as benign. Most of us will spend at least a few minutes every day in front of a mirror while brushing our teeth so while we’re there it makes sense to have a quick look inside the mouth.
“If you notice anything out of the ordinary, please do not hesitate to visit your dentist or a doctor.”
One such sufferer of the disease, who has since made a full recovery after noticing a lump in her mouth, is Rachel Parsons (44), a mother-of-five from Coventry. She recalled: “I had a number of recurring ulcers and a lump in my mouth had got worse. My mum was reading an article in a magazine about mouth cancer and recognised some of the symptoms which I had. She pleaded with me to go to my doctor and I’m so glad that I listened.
“Luckily my cancer was diagnosed at an early enough stage and although the road to recovery was tough, the important thing is that I’m still here and feeling stronger than ever.
“The big thing about mouth cancer is raising the awareness. I have been very proactive and helped other people who were in my position. The most important thing for us to remember is that if there’s something not quite right or something that you’re a little bit unsure about, go and get checked out. It saved my life, and it could save yours too.”
“Traditionally mouth cancer was a disease that mostly diagnosed in men over 40, but now we are seeing far more women and younger people developing the disease,” added Dr Carter.
“If through Mouth Cancer Action Month we can help save just one life through early detection then the campaign will be deemed a success.”
Mouth Cancer Action Month is being sponsored by Denplan, who are lending their invaluable support by raising awareness in dental practices all across the country, including raising awareness through the Blue Lip Selfie campaign.