The British Dental Health Foundation has partnered up with The Ben Walton Trust for Mouth Cancer Action Month 2012, which takes place in November.
The Ben Walton Trust, established in 1996, commemorates Ben Walton and his year-long fight against mouth cancer. Although mouth cancer traditionally affects those over the age of 40, Ben was only 22 when he lost his battle with the disease.
Ben was born at Kittleyknowe, near Carlops, and attended West Linton Primary School and Peebles High School. Ben was at Aberdeen University where he was studying Honours Psychology; in his final year, at the time of his death on 9 December 1995.
Founder and chairman of The Ben Walton Trust, Michael Walton, welcomed the move. He said: ‘I am delighted to support the work of the Foundation during Mouth Cancer Action Month. Too few people have heard about mouth cancer, even though 6,236 new cases were diagnosed in the UK last year alone and over 400 of those were in the under 45s.
‘It is our aim to raise awareness of the disease among the general public and healthcare professionals, to fund research into the disease and to encourage people to care for their mouths. Since I formed the Trust in Ben’s honour we have set up and funded several projects that have helped to educate people about mouth cancer, particularly those under 45. However, research has proved mouth cancer does not discriminate. Almost anyone at any age of either sex can contract the disease.’
The campaign, supported by Denplan, takes place throughout November under the strapline, If in doubt, get checked out. Tobacco use and drinking alcohol to excess are still the main causes of the disease, while poor diet, the human papilloma virus (HPV) transmitted via oral sex and forms of smokeless tobacco are also risk factors.
Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: ‘I would like to thank Mike and all those at the Ben Walton Trust for supporting this year’s campaign.
‘Mouth cancer can affect anyone, a fact highlighted by Ben’s case. What makes this disease worse is that too many people are diagnosed late. The five year survival rate of mouth cancer is just 50%, yet early diagnosis can give patients a 90% survival chance.
“During this campaign we are urging as many people as possible to visit their dentist and ask for a mouth cancer check-up. We should all be vigilant about problems with our oral health that could be more serious than we think
“Make sure you regularly check for ulcers that do not heal within three weeks; red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth. The Foundation’s message to everyone is ‘If in doubt, get checked out’”.