As the nights draw in and thoughts turn to Christmas, you may be busy planning festive occasions and shopping trips. However, November is about more than just getting ready for the arrival of Santa Claus. Mouth Cancer Action Month falls annually in November. And so, before you get too involved in your yuletide preparations, it’s worth checking up on your knowledge, and making sure you know the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.
The Oral Health Foundation have run Mouth Cancer Action Month each year since 2003, when they took it over from a group of the UK’s leading dental and health professionals. Their aim is to raise awareness of this form of cancer, and therefore promote early detection and, where possible, prevention. In doing so, they hope to save thousands of lives. Throughout November the Foundation will be working to increase understanding regarding the factors that may place you more at risk of mouth cancer, and educating people about the key signs and symptoms to be aware of.
Last year, diagnosis rates reached 7,000 in the UK alone. Over the last ten years, the number of cases has increased by a third. Worryingly, unlike many cancers, rates of diagnosis are forecast to increase further over the coming years. Mortality rates are also of concern: last year more than 2,000 people lost their lives to mouth cancer. This means that statistically, more people are killed by mouth cancer each year, than by road accidents.
The Oral Health Foundation are urging us to look out for three key signs of this disease:
It is important that if you experience any of these signs, you make an appointment to see your dentist, or doctor, immediately. After carrying out a full examination, they will be able to confirm what further investigation may be needed, if necessary.
So, who is most at risk of developing mouth cancer? Whilst we all carry a risk of developing this disease, over 90% of cases can be traced back to lifestyle choices. The following factors are said to be linked to a higher chance of developing the disease: smoking and tobacco use, alcohol consumption, poor diet (not enough fruit and vegetables), and the Human papillomavirus. Inhaling second-hand smoke also carries a risk.
Mouth Cancer Action Mouth is well supported by a comprehensive website dedicated to providing information and facts about the disease. The website also features information on preventative measures that can be taken, how you can check yourself for signs and symptoms, and the range of activities you can get involved in over the course of the month. This year, the charity is encouraging Twitter users to help them create a Thunderclap, to try and reach as many people as possible with information about the illness.
So, whilst you’re busy planning in those Christmas parties, and making your preparations, ensure you bear in mind your oral health, and remain vigilant for any symptoms that might need checking out. We’re always happy to carry out checks, or have a chat through any concerns you might have, so do give us a call if you’re at all worried.
For more details visit the Mouth Cancer Action Month website: http://www.mouthcancer.org/