In support of Mouth Cancer Action Month, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust has been working in partnership Bevan Healthcare to offer a free mouth screening service for vulnerable adults.

The Clinical Commissioning Groups funded the delivery of the service, making it more accessible for service users such as the homeless, asylum seekers, refugees and sex workers to access dental and oral health care.  Dental and feminine hygiene packs were also made available during ‘Self Care Week.’

Mouth cancer kills more people in the UK every year than cervical and testicular cancer combined. Spotting the disease early can increases chances of survival to more than 90%.

A free mouth screening service was provided by the Maxillofacial team from St Luke’s Hospital at two of the planned events that were held during that week.  The Community Dental Service were on hand to pass on important oral health information to service users.  The screening service aimed to increase education about the potential warning signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, as well as the factors that could put people at risk.

Factors such as tobacco, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and Human papillomavirus (HPV) transmitted through oral sex, increase chances of developing mouth cancer.

Sarah Wimpenny, Senior Oral Health Promoter has been leading the screenings and said: “There has been a great uptake in the number of people accessing the mouth screening service.  We were able to pass on key messages to reduce the risk of mouth cancer and let people know what they should look out for as early warning signs. We want people to be more aware of mouth cancer and the lifestyle choices they make that can lead to mouth cancer developing.”

The warning signs of mouth cancer are:

  • Red, white or speckled patches in the mouth that can’t be wiped off
  • Mouth ulcers or sores that take longer than three weeks to heal
  • A lump or thickening in the mouth
  • Problems chewing or swallowing lasting more than three weeks
  • A sore throat that lasts longer than three weeks

To reduce the risk of mouth cancer:

  • Check your mouth regularly and visit your dentist or GP immediately if you notice anything unusual
  • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco
  • Don’t drink more than the recommended limit of alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy and balanced diet

If in doubt, get checked out!

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