Birmingham Community Healthcare’s dental services division is supporting Mouth Cancer Action Month – an annual campaign to highlight the importance of checking for mouth cancer.
Over the last year, more than 8,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer. The disease claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined.
Practitioners and tutors at Birmingham Dental Hospital and in community clinics – which serve patients from across the West Midlands - are using the annual awareness month as an opportunity to promote the importance of early diagnosis among clinical teams and students; and to highlight the importance to the public of carrying out regular head and neck self-checks.
In partnership with University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), a lecture programme focussing on early diagnosis of mouth cancer - and the patient’s journey through treatment and beyond - is being offered to dental practitioners and students during the month.
Meanwhile, a series of rapid access referral clinics are being held for patients referred to the dental hospital by their general dental practitioner or doctor for assessment. Wherever a cancer is suspected or confirmed, patients are referred to maxillofacial surgeons and oncologists at UHB for further assessment and, if necessary, treatment.
On Blue Wednesday (15 November), a wide range of advice will be available in the dental hospital atrium, including support to stop smoking – a key cause of mouth cancer; guidance on how to self-check for signs of mouth cancer; plus information from BCHC chaplaincy services and Macmillan support engagement.
Divisional director of nursing and therapiesTina Gorman said: “Dental practitioners routinely check a patient’s general oral health as part of any check-up or treatment. But it is very important to reinforce the need to detect the signs of cancer as early as possible.
“We’re taking the opportunity in Mouth Cancer Action Month to reinforce the key messages to members of the public – a self-check for mouth cancer takes less than a minute and could save your life. Regular checking is so important because early diagnosis is vital for beating the disease.”