Hospitals offer mouth cancer checks ups
Surgeons and nurses at two Norfolk hospitals are marking national Mouth Cancer Awareness Week by offering drop-in clinics for the public to get their mouths checked for signs of cancer.
The week of November 13-19 is Mouth Cancer Awareness Week. Cancer can occur in any part of the mouth, tongue, lips and throat. Mouth cancers lead to a higher proportion of deaths per number of cases than breast, cervical or skin cancer.
The mortality rate for mouth cancers is just over 50 per cent, despite treatment, and leads to about 1,592 (2003) deaths per year in the UK. This high mortality rate is because of late detection.
There has been a 19 per cent increase in mouth cancer cases from 3,673 (1995) to 4,400 (2001). An increasing number of young people are being affected and 25 per cent of the cases have no associated significant risk factors.
To help raise public awareness of mouth cancer, staff in the Oral Health departments of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and James Paget Hospital (JPH) will be on hand on November 16 to check out members of the public.
Staff at NNUH's oral health department undertake all mouth cancers treatments for the county and N&N consultant oral maxillofacial surgeon Mr Richard James is keen for the public to understand more about the risks of mouth cancer
“Mouth cancer is not a high profile cancer but it is a killer and we want people to understand more about how they can prevent the disease and spot the signs early. That's why we are holding an open access clinic so people can just drop in and get themselves checked out.
“Smoking is the biggest risk in terms of developing a mouth cancer and we have all seen at first hand the physical and emotional devastation such cancers can cause patients and their loved ones.”
Mouth cancer clinics
Wednesday November 16
- NNUH – Drop in clinic from 14:00 to 17:00 in the Oral Health department (West Out-patients, Level 2)
- JPH – Self booking clinic (telephone 01493 452355 to arrange appointment) Oral Surgery out-patients
How to reduce your chances of getting mouth cancer
- Don't smoke or chew tobacco
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Have a healthy “low meat, low fat” diet, rich in vegetables and fruit with servings of bread, cereals or beans everyday
How to spot the early signs of mouth cancer
1. A sore or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal within three weeks
2. A lump or overgrowth of tissue anywhere in the mouth
3. A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
4. Difficulty in swallowing
5. Difficulty in chewing or moving the jaw or tongue
6. Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
7. A feeling that something is caught in the throat
8. A chronic sore throat or hoarseness that persists more than six weeks, particularly smokers over 50 years old and heavy drinkers
9. Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
10. Neck swelling present for more than three weeks
11. Unexplained tooth movement persisting for more than three weeks – see a dentist urgently
12. Unilateral nasal mass / ulceration / obstruction, particularly associated with purulent or bloody discharge