MID-ULSTER residents are being reminded that November is Mouth Cancer Action Month.
The campaign aims to improve the awareness of the symptoms, risk factors and early warning signs of the disease and in turn help improve survival rates for patients.
Local dentist Adam Jeffers from Molesworth Dental Practice in Cookstown says that the month long campaign is part of a wider strategy aimed at reducing and eliminating delays in presentation, referral and diagnosis of mouth cancer.
Adam said: “In the UK more than 6000 people annually are diagnosed with mouth cancer and around 2000 people die each year from the disease.
“Early diagnosis can really make a difference. Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not.
“Although mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men, research shows that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women. Only half of those diagnosed survive beyond five years of diagnosis.
“At Molesworth Place Dental Practice oral cancer screening is always provided as part of our routine dental examinations. We help our patients become aware of what they can do to prevent oral cancer.
“At the practice we also advise patients on the risk factors involved with oral cancer, and have patient information available which covers the topics of healty eating, smoking cessation, and sensible drinking.
“Prevention is the key, and making the right lifestyle choices can help minimise the risks.”
Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is evengreater, up to thirty times more than for those who do not drink or smoke.
Over exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer to the lips. Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus. This is the major cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body.
In addition to regular check-ups with your dentist, regular self examination is vital for the early detection of mouth cancer.
If you see something in your mouth like an ulcer which has not healed in 3 weeks, or red or white patches, or unusual changes please speak to your detist.
Remember, “If in doubt, get it checked out.”