This is now the third week of Mouth Cancer Action Month, and the third blog post we've written to raise awareness of this horrible disease. Last week we wrote about the risk factors of mouth cancer - including heavy smoking, drinking, a poor diet and the HPV virus. In Scotland, the incidence of mouth cancer is far higher than in England or Wales, so it's particularly important that we become #Mouthaware - that means knowing the warning signs and acting on them.
With the rise in breast cancer and testicular cancer, we've learned to check for lumps and changes in our bodies - catching these cancers early dramatically improves survival rates. For mouth cancer, an early diagnosis comes with a 90% survival rate - this compares to a late diagnosis where the survival rate drops to 50%. The number of mouth cancer cases has risen 40% in the past decade, and it's set to continue on this path. So it's pretty clear that we need to start taking a proactive approach to regular checks inside our mouths.
Your dentist will always do a thorough examination of your mouth checking for signs of mouth cancer - it's one of the reasons that regular check-ups are so important. But you should also learn how to make the same checks yourself. The Oral Health Foundation have written this handy leaflet with 6 handy steps for self examination.
If you are in any doubt, get it checked-out. Our dentists will always listen to you and take time to check out any areas of concern. If you're due a check-up, please don't delay - there is a chance it might save your life.