The Mouth Cancer Foundation is urging dental practices across the UK to sign up to give members of the public free mouth cancer examinations on the first Mouth Cancer Awareness Day in the UK.
Dentists have a key role to play in the early detection of mouth cancer and in prevention of the disease by identifying those patients who are exposed to risk factors. In the UK, nearly 8000 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year.
Mouth Cancer Awareness Day runs in conjunction with the Mouth Cancer Foundation’s Mouth Cancer Screening Accreditation Scheme*.
Mouth Cancer Foundation People’s Ambassador, Pat Jones, knows just how important it is that dentists carry out mouth cancer screening.
Pat lost her daughter, Clare Jones, to tongue cancer at just 23 years old in March 2007. Now she is on a mission to raise as much awareness about this lesser known cancer as she can. Pat said: '25% of mouth cancer cases are not associated with any known risk factor, hence the need for vigilance. Mouth Cancer Awareness Day is a great opportunity to get a free screening especially 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 must get it checked out immediately.'
Clare was a student at Loughborough University when she was first diagnosed in February 2003. She then faced an operation to remove the right side of her tongue, reconstruction with a flap from her right forearm and a neck dissection.
By 2007, Clare had secondary bone cancer and bravely went through the treatments offered. It was a difficult time for her and she was very, very scared. She worried about the effects of chemo and fertility but finished her chemotherapy and was looking forward to a better 2007. Unfortunately, the MRI scans showed no change in the size of her cancer, which eventually spread to her brain. Clare’s family now live with a lifetime of heart break.
Dentist, Dr Philip Lewis said: 'The screening offers lots of benefits to practices. As well as saving lives it is a practice builder. It encourages footfall and trust. Mouth Cancer Awareness Day is about educating the public about screening. I can think of no activity more important for dental professionals than the early detection of mouth cancer.'
In 2011, Mouth Cancer Awareness Day was successfully launched in Ireland by the Mouth Cancer Awareness Group.
To take part in Mouth Cancer Awareness Day 2013 in the UK, visit www.mouthcancerfoundation.org/get-involved/mouth-cancer-awarness-day for more information.
Dr Vinod Joshi, founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, said: 'Mouth Cancer Awareness Day has been a huge success in Ireland. Lives have been saved as dentist picked up cases of mouth cancer which would otherwise have gone undiagnosed. Head and neck cancers are particularly vicious and debilitating when detected late. Patients who survive are a huge drain on medical resources for the rest of their lives, in terms of post operative and the psychological care required. With earlier detection, lives are saved and costs on the NHS will reduce dramatically.'