Time to get mouth cancer aware

The Oral Health Foundation has heralded November as Mouth Cancer Action Month, and throughout November they will be aiming to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by increasing education of the risk factors and signs and symptoms while encouraging everybody to discuss them with their dental professional.

In the UK alone there are 7000 people diagnosed with mouth cancer each year, of which 2000 will lose the battle. The disease has grown by a third in the last decade, which is why this campaign is so important.

Two thirds of mouth cancer cases are linked to smoking tobacco and mouth cancer is 2.5 times higher in those with periodontal disease. By knowing more about the risk factors, living healthier lifestyles and by learning what to look out we can help reduce our risk and lower the number of lives that mouth cancer effects.

The positive news is that although the number of mouth cancer cases has increased steadily over the last decade, more people are being treated successfully and living for longer. However, early detection is critical and can improve survival results by 90%.

This means that as oral health professionals we should aim to be mouth aware;

  • • Don’t leave a mouth ulcer unattended for more than three weeks.
  • • Don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swellings.
  • • Be aware of red and white patches in the mouth.

Take note if your patient reports;

  • • Unusual and unattended bleeding from the mouth.
  • • Difficulty in chewing, speaking or moving the jaw.
  • • Tenderness in the area of the mouth and neck.
  • • Ear pain.
  • • Soreness like something’s caught in their throat.

Remember, early detection can save lives.

The bigger picture

On a related note the DHAA are pleased to welcome Kelsey Pateman as a guest speaker at this weekend’s National Symposium in Hobart.

Kelsey is an Oral Health Therapist and PhD candidate based at the University of Queensland, School of Dentistry. Her PhD study, titled “support needs and quality of life implications in head and neck cancer” is focused on exploring the changes to oral health that occur as a result of treatment for cancers to the head and neck, and how these changes affect quality of life, including psychosocial consequences.

The results of this research have described unmet oral health and psychosocial support needs and will be used to identify strategies to enhance supportive care for people treated for head and neck cancer. Kelsey is also employed as a research assistant as part of the Dental Public Health research group.

In her presentation, Kelsey will share the findings of her PhD research, which has addressed the oral health care needs of people, treated for head and neck cancer.

For those of you not attending the Symposium will be able to catch up on what Kelsey’s presentation in the next edition of the DHAA Bulletin.