Mouth Cancer Action Week 2012

Oral health promotion advisor Lindsey Neville (left) and oral health promotion 'co-ordinator Wendy McGee
Oral health promotion advisor Lindsey Neville (left) and oral health promotion 'co-ordinator Wendy McGee

A FORM of cancer which is all too prevalent is the subject of an awareness campaign in Hartlepool.

Mouth cancer is responsible for 6,000 newly diagnosed cases in the UK each year.

Without early intervention, half of those will die.

They are stark statistics but exactly the sort of point which officials at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust want to make.

Throughout November, teams of experts will be visiting towns in the Tees Valley to raise awareness and to get people to take action.

It’s Hartlepool’s turn on Thursday, November 22. The Trust’s oral health promotion team will be at Asda in Marina Way from 1pm to 3pm.

Worldwide, more than 460,000 people are expected to die from the disease each year by 2030.

But it does not have to be that way.

Oral health promotion co-ordinator Wendy McGee, said: “People can reduce the risk of mouth cancer by stopping smoking, only drinking the recommended limit of alcohol and maintaining a healthy diet.”

Her advice comes during Mouth Cancer Action Month.

Out of the 6,236 people a year diagnosed with oral cancer in the UK, two thirds are men and one-third women.

Just under half of oral cancer cases are diagnosed in people aged 65 and just over half of those diagnosed survive beyond five years of diagnosis.

The risk that people have of developing oral cancer in the UK is 1 in 93 for men and 1 in 186 for women.

Yet we are by far the worst nation for recorded cases of the disease.

Statistics show that within the European Union, the highest incidence rates are estimated to be in Hungary for men and the Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary for women.

Oral cancer caused 1,985 deaths in the UK in 2010. Over two thirds of mouth cancer cases are detected at a late stage, reducing chances of survival.

Tobacco use and drinking alcohol are the main risk factors and account for around three in four cases of mouth cancers. People who both drink and use tobacco to excess are up to 30 times more likely to develop the condition as alcohol aids absorption of tobacco into the system.

But what can you do about it? Wendy added: “People should check their mouth regularly for symptoms, such as red or white patches in their mouth.

“People should visit their dentist or GP immediately if they notice anything abnormal.”

They could also attend the awareness event in Hartlepool later this month.

The team will be on hand to offer people advice and answer questions on how mouth cancer can be prevented and how to look after their teeth and mouth.

Those wanting more information should visit www.mouthcancer.org.