Open wide and take a look inside to prevent mouth cancer

We are supporting Mouth Cancer Action Month to raise awareness of the disease and save lives through early detection and prevention.

The national campaign aims to raise awareness of the risk factors and signs and symptoms of the disease while encouraging people to register at an NHS dentist and visit every six months or as often as recommended.

Mouth cancer takes the lives of more than 2,000 people each year in the UK. People are being encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, stop smoking and keep within the safe guidelines for alcohol, plus to learn how to spot the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

Cllr. Anna Groskop, Cabinet member with responsibility for health and wellbeing at Somerset County Council said: “The two leading causes of mouth cancer in the UK are tobacco and alcohol. They are both carcinogenic, which means they contain chemicals that can damage the DNA in cells and lead to cancer. The risk of mouth cancer increases significantly in people who smoke and drink heavily.”

Symptoms of mouth cancer include:
• sore mouth ulcers that don’t heal within several weeks
• unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth that don’t go away
• unexplained, persistent lumps in the neck that don’t go away
• unexplained looseness of teeth, or sockets that don’t heal after extractions
• unexplained, persistent numbness or an odd feeling on the lip or tongue
• sometimes, white or red patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue – these can be early signs of cancer, so they should also be investigated
• changes in speech, such as a lisp

Cllr. Anna Groskop, added: “See your GP or dentist if these symptoms don’t heal within three weeks, particularly if you drink or smoke heavily. It is never too late to improve your oral health habits. A 45 second check in the bathroom mirror each morning along with visiting your dentist as often as they recommend will help to identify anything unusual.

“Early detection could save your life. If you notice any changes in your mouth please speak to a dentist or doctor immediately.”

Local people can visit NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk for information on finding an NHS dentist and mouth cancer.

If you would like to promote the month yourself then visit The Mouth Cancer Action Month website (www.mouthcancer.org/downloads/) for campaign materials including posters showing causes of mouth cancer.