Festival focus for mouth cancer campaign

Posted on 11/08/2014 by

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Health professionals took to the Fringe to raise mouth cancer awareness at the weekend … 

nhs_lothian_logoDental and oral health experts gathered in Edinburgh at the weekend as part of the campaign to raise awareness of mouth cancer.

The “Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer” campaign has been set up to provide information and support to tackle the oral disease, which is increasing in the UK. The main goal of the campaign is to improve survival through early diagnosis of disease.

The team raised awareness among festival-goers, holiday makers and locals at the Meadows over the weekend, offering a 24 hours screening service from a marquee on Middle Meadoww Walk.

NHS postgraduate trainees from the Edinburgh Dental Institute also delivered oral health messages at various sites in Edinburgh and used social media and their website to make sure they get their point across – and one daring duo even braved the elements for 24 hours on a tandem to raise awareness of mouth cancer symptoms!

The campaign is a collaborative project between NHS Lothian and Edinburgh University and urges people:  ‘If in doubt, check it out’.

Professor Victor Lopes, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, NHS Lothian, said: “Early detection and timely treatment of mouth cancer is vital and can lead to a significantly improved survival rate. It cannot be stressed enough – the earlier a cancer is detected, the better the treatment options and outcome.

“Remember, most mouth conditions are not cancerous. If you are in any doubt, check it out with a dentist, doctor or pharmacist – also make sure you have regular dental checks and look after your health.”

Mouth cancer affects all age groups – with a significant rise among people under 45 years – and there are now more cases of mouth cancer in the UK each year than cases of cervical cancer in women and testicular cancer in men put together.

The campaign has important messages for people of all ages, but organisers are keen to target specific groups, including young people and people from ethnic minorities.

​Common risk factors include:

  • Regular high alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. World-wide, HPV is the most widespread sexually transmitted virus
  • Poor diet
  • Poor oral hygiene.

People who combine smoking and regular high alcohol intake increase by 40 times their risk of developing mouth cancer. But some younger patients with the disease have none of these risk factors, which is why it’s important to check regularly for signs of mouth cancer.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Oral lumps that grow
  • Oral ulcers that do not heal after two weeks
  • Red, white or mixed patches in the mouth
  • Persistent soreness in the mouth
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Lump in your neck.
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