World Cancer Day takes place every year on 4 February to unite the world in the fight against cancer. It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year through education, raising awareness and by pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action. This year’s Day marks the launch of a three year #IAmAndIWill campaign. ‘I Am and I Will’ is an empowering call-to-action urging for personal commitment. It represents the power of individual action taken now to impact the future.
As a dentist, I am particularly aware of the devastating impact of mouth cancer. It can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. Deaths from this disease have increased significantly compared with five years ago. Early diagnosis is key to a positive outcome. Research shows that early detection boosts chances of survival from 50% to 90%. Everyone needs to know what the risk factors are and how to spot early signs and symptoms.
Your dentist can often spot mouth cancer in its early stages during a thorough mouth examination. If you notice you are constantly ‘hoarse’ or have a mouth ulcer that does not heal up within three weeks, notice any white or red patches in your mouth or have any unusual lumps or swellings in your mouth, head or neck, speak to your dentist or doctor as soon as possible. Many people with mouth cancer go to their dentist or doctor too late. Watch a short video here to learn more https://youtu.be/5hBwXg2MmvU
Lifestyle factors, particularly drinking alcohol, smoking and chewing tobacco are heavily linked to a large number of cases of mouth cancer. Stopping smoking and cutting down your alcohol consumption are two important steps to take to reduce the risk of developing this disease.