Oral health staff will be on hand to perform oral health checks at Braehead Shopping Centre as part of Oral Cancer Awareness Week which runs from today (Monday 12th) until Friday 16th.
As well as staff handing out leaflets, free oral care products, general health promotion advice and answering questions, staff will be aiming to improve the public’s knowledge of the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.
In Scotland more than 500 people every year are diagnosed with the condition, which is one of the top 10 most commonly diagnosed cancers, with smoking and alcohol two of the main risk factors. More recently, the link between younger people being diagnosed with mouth cancer and the HPV (human papilloma virus) is being explored.
Individuals who use both are estimated to be 30 times at greater risk than abstainers.
Early detection can save the lives of many people diagnosed with mouth cancer and the key message is to attend routine dental check-ups or contact your GP or dentist sooner rather than later if experiencing symptoms lasting three weeks or more.
Anne Marie Brown, Macmillan Head and Neck Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: “Changes in your mouth might not be painful, but people should still see their doctor or dentist if symptoms last longer than three weeks.
“The most common signs are an ulcer or sore in your mouth or on your tongue, a red, white or dark patch in your mouth, or an unexplained pain in your mouth and ear.
“It is also worth making an appointment if you are experiencing an unexplained lump in your neck, a sore or painful throat, or have voice changes or difficulty swallowing, again especially if all of these symptoms last longer than three weeks.
“We should also all increase the amount of fruit and vegetables that we eat on a daily basis.”
Mouth cancer can occur on the tongue, gums, lips, cheeks and the floor or roof of your mouth.
Regular dental attendance allows dentists to examine the soft tissues of the mouth and spot warning signs and then decide if to refer patients to specialist services for diagnosis and treatment at an earlier stage in the disease.
Once diagnosed, treatment options vary, smaller tumours may only require removal by surgery, or radiotherapy, but more advanced cases may require more extensive surgery and a combination of treatments including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Consultant Stephen Morley, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: “Raising awareness of oral cancer is important. It allows individuals to think about whether they might be increasing their risk of developing a cancer.
“Also awareness of the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer will lead to less
patients presenting with advanced cancer where achieving a cure is less likely.
“Currently more than half of patients who present with mouth cancer are cured.”
Notes to Editors
Staff will be available to offer advice, answer questions and give out information at Braehead Shopping Centre Monday to Friday between 10.00 am and 9.00 pm.
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]