Be mouth aware: 45 seconds could save your life
Are you able to recognise the changes in your mouth? That’s the question posed by St Helens Council’s Healthy Living Oral Health Team as they support a charity campaign to raise awareness of mouth cancer.
The team, based in St Helens are urging St Helens residents to be more 'mouth-aware' and recognise the early warning signs of mouth cancer, ahead of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month.
With awareness of the disease remaining alarmingly low, Julie Lawson , Oral Health Improvement Officer from the Healthy Living said ‘a simple 45 second check is often all that’s needed to identify anything unusual and be able to then seek professional guidance’.
Julie Lawson, Oral Health Improvement Officer, said: “Early diagnosis transforms our chances of beating mouth cancer from 50 per cent to 90 percent 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.
“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.
“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 brushing our teeth so while we’re there it makes sense to have a quick look inside the mouth.
“If you keep a lookout for these symptoms then a simple 45 second check really could save your life.
“If you notice anything out of the ordinary, please speak to your dentist or a doctor.”
Mouth Cancer Action Month takes place throughout November and is organised by the Oral Health Foundation.
With around 7,000 Brits diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, the disease is one of the UK’s fastest increasing cancers, with cases rising by a third in the last decade alone.
Survival rates of mouth cancer have not improved in the last 20 years and the oral health charity is concerned that too many are mouth cancers are being diagnosed at a late stage, significantly reducing our chance to beat the disease.
Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE added: “Mouth cancer can appear anywhere in the mouth including the lips, tongue, cheek, throat and gums.
Mouth cancer can have a devastating effect on a person’s life, impacting on their breathing, eating and speech. Reconstructive surgery could also change their appearance while the experience often has an impact on confidence and self-esteem.
“By developing a greater understanding about the early warning signs and symptoms, the lifestyle factors which increase our risk, and recognising where to go if we notice anything unusual inside our mouth, we can detect mouth cancer early. This will not only improve our chances of beating it but will also reduce the amount of invasive surgery needed to treat it.
“During every dental check-up, your dentist will do a visual examination for mouth cancer and look for anything that might be a cause for concern. That’s why it’s so important to keep regular dental check-ups – it’s not just about the health of our teeth and gums – a trip to the dentist could really be a life saver.”
The Healthy Living Oral Health Team will be present at a number of local events to promote the campaign and to offer information and advice. The events will be held at the following venues, dates and times:
- Thursday 8 November - Cancer awareness hub Hardshaw centre 10am – 12:30pm
- Thursday 22 November - Cancer awareness hub Hardshaw centre 10am – 4pm
- Friday 30 November - Smokefree St Helens Hub Unit 2 The Hardshaw Centre 10am-12:30pm
You can also visit www.mouthcancer.org for more information and if you notice anything out of the ordinary, please speak to your dentist or a doctor.