Mouth Cancer Awareness Campaign – May guest blog. If in doubt…check it out!

Our clinic is running a mouth cancer awareness campaign in a bid to raise the awareness of this particular cancer and ensure people are aware of the potential warning signs.
Previous blog posts have included information on the potential warning signs.

Throughout the year ahead we’ll work with members of the Ben Walton Trust, a charity which was set up after the death of student Ben Walton.

This guest blog has been written by Ben’s father Michael Walton – and we thank him for his input…

“Recently I was in Glasgow for two events, firstly a visit to Philip Friel Advanced Dentistry to discuss their first ever Mouth Cancer Campaign which will run from April until November 2013.

The second was to speak the following day to the British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists (BSDHT) on the topic of Early Detection and Rapid Referral of Oral Lesions.

Now why may you ask, as I am not a dentist or a medic of any sort, was I speaking to such a group? Well. my son Ben died of mouth cancer when he was 22 years old, an otherwise fit and healthy young man with excellent oral hygiene but in retrospect he had had a bout of glandular fever and had a mouth ulcer that was large enough for his GP to measure – it disappeared entirely, but when he developed mouth cancer it was in the same place. So a lesson there, although I must point out that most mouth conditions are not cancerous.

I set up the Trust and spent a great deal of time reading around the subject and realised that there was very little public and even professional awareness of the disease.

AFFECTING MORE YOUNGER MEN AND WOMEN

I was also aware that there was little research done on the subject. Yet it was apparent to me, at least, that something was happening. What had traditionally been a late to middle age disease of older men who had drunk and smoked to excess and was largely preventable, it was affecting more younger men and women for no apparent reason.

BEN WALTON TRUST'S MICHAEL WALTON

Michael Walton – author of our guest blog

At that time, 16 years ago, the annual incidence in the UK was given as between 1,800 -2,400 new cases ( 400 in Scotland) with only a 50% survival rate. In 2010 the figures had risen to 6,200 new cases ( 770) in Scotland but the mortality was around 2,000, so a large increase but better survival rates, down ,I believe, to increased public and professional awareness, leading to more rapid detection. Survival rates can improve from a low of less than 50 % to over 90% by rapid detection and treatment.

One of the first things we implemented was a research project in collaboration with King’s College dental school London where we helped to fund a three year study on patients under the age of 45 years. Remarkably this showed, for the first time, that in 25% of these cases, alcohol and tobacco were not implicated in causing the disease.

I do not have the space here to speculate what it was but if you go to our website you will see more information as well as the key signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

After the results of the King’s study were published, Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya made the following statement”

‘WE CANNOT STEREOTYPE WHO MAY MAY BE AT RISK’

“It is clear from this study that we cannot stereotype who may be at risk from mouth cancer. Young and old, smokers and non-smokers, drinkers and non-drinkers and any social class may be affected. This is important information for dentists and physicians (and pharmacists) so as not to overlook signs and symptoms in the absence of stereotype to avoid misdiagnosis”.

So what is Phil Friel doing in his campaign? – well, he will be offering free mouth cancer screening during a couple of specific periods later this year. If the patient wishes to say thank you a donation can be made to The Ben Walton Trust via our Justgiving page at www.benwaltontrust.org

I personally believe that early detection is probably the single most important factor. However ‘gold standard’ the treatment plans are and however good the ‘centres of excellence’ become, the fact remains that until the patient presents, the pathway of detection, diagnosis and treatment cannot begin and precious time is lost.

I applaud Phil Friel and his practice for taking this initiative, as not only may it save distress and indeed potentially lives , it will also underpin an awareness massage that is so important.

Don’t have sleepless nights but if you notice anything unusual in your mouth or a condition which is not clearing within two weeks……..Check it Out

With Best Wishes Mike Walton.”

Should you have any questions or concerns arising from the above blog please feel free to contact our clinic on 0141 339 7579.