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Mouth Cancer Action Month – November 2016 17-11-2016

The nights may be drawing in and, as the last of this year’s fireworks fizzle out, you might be starting to think about Christmas. However, November also marks Mouth Cancer Action Month. So, before you start thinking about those Christmas lists, and dusting off the decorations, spare a moment to check your knowledge, and see if you know the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Mouth Cancer Action Month is an awareness month run by the Oral Health Foundation. The Foundation aim to save thousands of lives by raising awareness about the condition in order to increase rates of early detection and, where possible, prevention. The Oral Health Foundation will be spending November increasing education about the factors that can place you more at risk of mouth cancer, and teaching people about the signs and symptoms to look out for.

In 2015, over 7,000 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK alone. This number is on the increase: it has already grown by a third over the last ten years and, unlike most other cancers, is forecast to increase further over the coming years. More than 2,000 people lose their lives to mouth cancer each year. To put this figure into perspective, it’s more than the number of people killed by road traffic accidents over the course of a year.

So, what are the signs you need to look out for? There are three key signs that you should not ignore:

  • Ulcers that don’t heal after 3 weeks
  • Areas in your mouth that are red or white
  • Lumps or swellings. These may be in your mouth, or in your head and neck area

If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment to see your dentist, or your doctor, straightaway. They will carry out a full examination to ascertain what, if any, further action may need to be taken.

There are several risk factors that make people more susceptible to mouth cancer. Although anybody can be affected, over 90% of cases are said to be linked to lifestyle choices. Smoking and tobacco use are said to be linked to mouth cancer, as is alcohol consumption, the Human papillomavirus and diet (not enough fruit and vegetables). Environmental factors such as second-hand smoke can also be a risk factor.

The Oral Health Foundation support a website dedicated to providing information about mouth cancer. You’ll find lots more details about the disease, the steps you can take to prevent it, how you can check yourself for signs and symptoms, and how you can get involved in the events and activities planned for the month. There’s lots going on!

So, whilst you’re getting that advent calendar in place, and preparing to hit the shops to buy your presents, bear in mind your oral health, and keep an eye out for any symptoms that might need a second look. Our dental team are very happy to carry out checks and will support you as needed in the event further investigation is needed.

For more details visit the Mouth Cancer Action Month website: http://www.mouthcancer.org/

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