As part of a Scottish awareness event, figures from Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer also show that Scotland has the highest rate of mouth cancer in the UK and that the disease accounts for more deaths than road traffic accidents across the UK.
Mouth Cancer Awareness Month will be marked by Dundee by a host of several high-profile events, including the launch of the Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer event by former Scottish international rugby Scott Hastings.
The launch of the scheme at Dundee Dental School on 18 November also saw the unveiling of the “Pull-a-face at mouth cancer” scheme, which is an online digital awareness campaign to support the efforts of Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer.
Scott said: “This campaign will bring a life-saving message to the public in a friendly and accessible way. It’s a very simple check that we should all know about.”
The former rugby star and charity patron was joined at the launch event by Graeme, a former mouth cancer sufferer. He said: “My cancer was diagnosed early and that meant I got treatment early. It has been a good outcome for me.
“Knowing the signs and symptoms is really important and if you find something different in your mouth, get it checked.”
A Dundee pop-up shop, which will advise people on how to check their own mouths for symptoms of mouth cancer, will also be running between Thursday 26 and Saturday 28 November in Dundee’s Steeple Centre.
Staff will also be collaborating with staff and students from Dundee Dental School, with the evening of Thursday 26 November also providing a free training event for local healthcare professionals to detect and treat mouth cancer.
Consultant Oral Surgeon, Ms Stephanie Sammut of NHS Tayside, said: “This event is an excellent opportunity to learn how to self-examine and spot the signs of mouth cancer.
“Early detection is key and can lead to a higher chance of survival - the earlier mouth cancer is detected the quicker it can be treated.
“Although most mouth conditions are not cancerous, if you spot anything unusual such as a lump or an ulcer which lasts longer than two weeks, you should consult with a dentist or doctor.”
At present, girls between the ages of 13 and 14 are immunised against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), as it can cause cervical cancer in women. However, HPV’s status as a potential contributor in cases of mouth cancer for both males and females means that the charity is lobbying MSPs to push through legislation permitting gender-neutral HPV vaccination.
As well as HPV infection, other contributory factors to the contraction of mouth cancer include smoking, poor dental hygiene, chewing tobacco and high alcohol consumption.
Some of the symptoms of the cancer include oral lumps that grow in size, bleeding, ulcers that refuse to heal after 14 days and red and white patches in the mouth.
Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer is the recipient of this year’s Association of Dental Groups Award for the Best Voluntary Scheme to Promote and Deliver Oral Health.
Those wishing to stay updated with the work of Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer can do so via their website [www.letstalkaboutmouthcancer.co.uk], Facebook [www.facebook.com/letstalkaboutmouthcancer] and Twitter [www.twitter.com/couldbeUrmouth] pages.