Regular reminders, such as text messages, are an effective way of combating oral cancer, a new study has shown.
The study sent regular text reminders to patients encouraging them to check their mouths for signs of oral cancer, with results showing it significantly improved the number of patients self-examining themselves for early warning signs.
Those that found early warning signs or something unusual were then also more likely to visit a doctor or dentist, where findings were confirmed and diagnosed.
‘So far, this has only been trialled on existing mouth cancer patients to keep them alert to any reoccurrences,’ Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said.
‘I have no doubts that text messages can have a much wider application to alert those most at risk to check themselves regularly for the early signs of mouth cancer.
‘Something as simple and effective as a text message could be a quick and inexpensive way for oral health authorities to identify mouth cancer at an earlier stage.
‘The number of people diagnosed with mouth cancer may have risen sharply, but the proportion of those beating the disease has barely improved over the last 40 years.
‘More often than not, this is due to late diagnosis.’
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Increasing cases of oral cancer
Cases of oral cancer have increased by more than a third in the last decade alone, reaching 13 cases per 100,000 people in 2014.
It is the 11th most common form of cancer worldwide and there are calls for more to be done to help curb these rising numbers.
‘The vast majority of oral cancer cases are preventable, so the good news is that people can cut their risk by quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol,’ Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK’s lead GP, said.
‘It’s also vital that everyone knows what their mouth, tongue and gums usually feel like so they can spot anything out of the ordinary.
‘Early diagnosis is absolutely key for the best results, which is why we’re set on helping dentists and GPs catch oral cancer sooner.’