Hundreds of people from across the country turned out to support a free 10k sponsored walk in London’s Hyde Park to raise awareness of mouth cancer.
The event, supported by former Commonwealth swimming champion Sharron Davies MBE, was held on Sunday 14 October and staged by the Mouth Cancer Foundation.
It was the second Mouth Cancer Awareness Walk to be held and was sponsored by Merck Serono to help raise the profile of this lesser known cancer killer. It was the first of a series of awareness-raising initiatives in the run up to Mouth Cancer Awareness Week, which runs from 11-17 November 2007.
Sharron Davies said: ‘Mouth cancer can be almost invisible, making it easy to ignore. The chance of survival is greatly improved if the cancer is detected early and rapidly treated. That is why it is crucial for the public to become more aware of the symptoms of this debilitating disease. By taking part in the Mouth Cancer Awareness Walk you will be literally saving lives’.
Michelle Morton, 23, from Hastings, East Sussex, knows first-hand the devastating effect mouth cancer can have. She was diagnosed with Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma in June 2006 and was treated at the Sussex Cancer Centre & the Royal Sussex hospital in Brighton. During her treatment Michelle dropped to 6stone 10lb. After a gruelling recovery Michelle is now happy, health and cancer free.
She took part in the 10K walk and said: ‘I did the walk to help raise awareness of head and neck cancers. Mouth cancer does not have an age limit, it effects young and old alike. I hope to raise over £2,000 for the Mouth Cancer Foundation. It was such a lovely day, I walked with other survivors and it was a truly inspiring day.’
The founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, Dr Vinod Joshi, said: ‘Twenty-five per cent of mouth cancer cases are not associated with any known risk factor, hence the need for vigilance. If you notice a lump in your mouth that wasn’t there before or a mouth ulcer which lasts for more than three weeks, you should see a dentist or doctor immediately.’
The World Health Organization lent its support to the Foundation’s walking event. Dr PE Petersen of the Oral Health Programme ‘Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion’ said: ‘Mouth Cancer Awareness Week is a very important initiative and the 10k sponsored walking event is a great way to raise the profile of mouth cancer. The prevention of oral cancer is a priority action area of the World Health Organisation programme. I look forward to expanding the collaboration between the Mouth Cancer Foundation and the World Health Organisation for effective control and prevention of oral cancer in the future.’
Mouth Cancer kills one in two people who are diagnosed with it, due to late detection. Mouth cancers have a higher proportion of deaths per number of cases than breast cancer, cervical cancer or skin melanoma. In 2005, there were more than 2,700 deaths from the disease in the UK.