Campaigners and supporters joined The Oral Health Foundation at the Houses of Parliament yesterday as they launched this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month
The room was filled with 130 campaigners and supporters.
The attendees heard from a range of speakers reinforcing the need for greater recognition of mouth cancer and its signs and symptoms.
The event’s parliamentary sponsor, Sir Paul Beresford MP used his introductory speech to talk about the vast improvements in prevention in recent times.
He talked about combatting risk factors such as smoking and alcohol and through the introduction of the HPV vaccination.
The OHF chief executive Dr Nigel Carter OBE spoke about the devastating rise of mouth cancer in the UK.
‘The sad fact is that the number of mouth cancer cases continues to increase year on year,’ said Dr Carter.
‘When we took on this campaign nearly two decades ago, we were looking at just over 3,000 cases each year. In the last year or so, we have had over 8,300 recognised cases of mouth cancer.
‘That is a huge increase, and it is one of the few cancers where the number of cases has started to increase.
Be ‘mouthaware’ about mouth cancer
‘We want everyone to be more mouthaware during this year’s campaign.
‘This means being able to identify the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.
‘We need to understand what is more likely to put us at greater risk, and importantly, know where to go if you spot anything out of the ordinary.
Dr Carter said diagnosis saves lives so during November and he asked for help to get the message across.
‘If in doubt, get checked out.’
Dr Catherine Rutland, head dental officer at Simplyhealth spoke next.
She highlighted the importance of nationwide awareness and how each and every one of us can get to grips with the disease.
Dr Rutland said: ‘We are proud that this is our 19th year working with the OHF.
‘There’s been massive progress made on the awareness front in the last couple of years.
‘The Blue Lip Selfie campaign we are running with the OHF is a really positive way to get involved with the campaign.
‘Get hold of some blue lips, wear some blue lipstick, post your blue lip selfies and use the #BlueLipSelfie to raise awareness.’
It can happen to anyone
Mouth cancer survivor Karen Liesching Schroder, moved the entire room with her incredibly powerful story and fight with mouth cancer.
Karen said: “I’ve always thought of myself as a healthy person. I’ve never smoked, don’t drink much and am a runner.
‘To get a diagnosis of tongue cancer at age 43 originally hit me like a ton of bricks.
‘It hasn’t been easy since surgery and there have been lots of blips.
‘There are long-term effects after radiotherapy, and I do have problems swallowing and struggle with harder foods.
‘I have started helping and supporting others who are new to the journey.’
Dr Philip Lewis of the Mouth Cancer Foundation said: ‘Public awareness programmes, self-examination and well-informed decisions are all pivotal to this struggle.
‘Everyone needs to take an interest, and everyone needs to spread the word.
‘Together we will make a difference.’
The parliamentary event brought together a number of mouth cancer charities.
The reception had support from Noman is an Island, Boundaries for Life, The Swallows, Oracle Trust, Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, HPV Action and The Throat Cancer Foundation.