Routine mouth cancer screens could save lives

Sixty Seconds Could Save Your Life!

HNCF calls for Brits to ‘Get Mouthy About Cancer’

The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) is calling all Brits to ask their dentists to conduct mouth cancer screens at their next appointment. This should be routinely included within the price of a dental check-up and should take no more than one minute.

Consumer research conducted by HNCF in partnership with YouGov - as part of its Get Mouthy About Cancer campaign during Mouth Cancer Action Month this November - shows that we could all be doing more to specifically drive early diagnosis of mouth cancers.  Early detection is paramount to improving patient outcomes - as these types of cancers can be extremely aggressive, disfiguring and life limiting.

HNCF’s research asked people how often they have routine dental check-ups and if they are receiving mouth cancer screening.

Only a third of Brits have a dental check-up every two years, or more. With 13% stating that they NEVER go to the dentist.

A quarter of us do go to the dentist on an annual basis, 38% go every six months, and 3% even go on a monthly basis. These statistics present a huge opportunity for early diagnosis and improved survival rates.

However, when looking at overall awareness of mouth cancer screening - nearly three quarters of all Brits stated their dentist does not do a regular mouth cancer screen, or they are unaware of it being done during their last check up. Which means the vast majority of us are missing out on this simple routine and potentially life-saving screen.

Michelle Vickers, CEO at The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation commented on the findings:

As a nation we are regrettably unaware that our dentists can play a huge role in oral cancer detection and be routinely screening for signs of mouth cancer during check ups. Dentists are taught to do this as part of their standard oral check-up process. If people were screened they would know – as the tongue is held to either side of the mouth and the dentist is likely to follow the gums for signs of abnormal growth. We are asking everyone to ask their dentist for a routine screen the next time they visit – it’s really that simple.

We’ve introduced our Get Mouthy About Cancer campaign this November, because we all hear so often, and know how, to check our boobs or balls - but I bet the majority of people are unaware of what they’re looking for in their mouth! 31 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancers each day in the UK - so it’s time to get talking about what to look for. We brush our teeth daily - just an extra 30-60 seconds to check oral health could save your life!”

To find out how please watch HNCF’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-GeHCIL7-A . Once you’ve seen this video you will know whether your dentist is checking your mouth, or not, and how to check yourself at home.

Professor Mark McGurk, world-renowned surgeon and founder of HNCF added:

We want everyone to be having a conversation about mouth cancers. By bringing routine mouth checks front-of-mind and putting it on the agenda - we will raise awareness, raise the number of early detections and reduce the number of people facing stage two and three mouth cancers.”

For those patients who do detect mouth cancer early, technological and medical innovation means that treatment can now be offered in a much less invasive manner, by using the Sentinel Node Biopsy technique (SNB). SNB is an alternative, and significantly less invasive treatment for dealing with head and neck cancers. The fluorescent camera and technology locates the nodes in the neck that will contain migrating cancer cells, so that these can be targeted and removed - this saves over 70% of patients with early disease a neck dissection. It spares vital glands and helps patients get back to a normal life more quickly, compared to traditional neck dissection techniques.

SNB has been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is fully adopted in Denmark and the Netherlands, and is growing in deployment across Europe and the US. This practice - pioneered by Professor Mark McGurk, HNCF’s founder - is the result of 15 years’ development and is based on the findings of nearly 500 cases.

HNCF works to educate and train both surgeons and nurses around the UK on this treatment and state-of-the-art technology, to bring a better outcome and time-saving treatment to oral cancer patients.

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