Free checks in Edinburgh to raise awareness of mouth cancer

Generic dental examination The campaign offers free mouth screening checks to help detect any early symptoms of mouth cancer

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A new charity drive aims to boost public awareness of mouth cancer and help save lives.

Dentists are to take to the streets of Edinburgh to offer mouth screening and highlight symptoms of the disease.

The Let's Talk About Mouth Cancer campaign is being backed by a father whose son died after being diagnosed with mouth cancer.

Figures showed it affects more people in the UK each year than cervical and testicular cancer combined.

The Ben Walton Trust said there were 7,698 new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed in the UK in 2011.

Michael Walton, who founded the charity in memory of his son, said: "The trust is really pleased to be associated with this campaign.

"A problem with this disease is poor public and professional knowledge which leads to delay in referral to specialist treatment."

He added: "This campaign proactively addresses these issues and could save lives."

Free mouth screening

The Let's Talk About Mouth Cancer campaign has been set up by NHS Lothian and Edinburgh University.

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We would encourage people to be vigilant and screen their own mouths for the signs of mouth cancer”

End Quote Niall McGoldrick Edinburgh Dental Institute

As part of the initiative clinicians from the institute will be offering free mouth screening checks to members of the public in the city's Bristo Square on Wednesday.

Prof Victor Lopes, consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon with NHS Lothian, said: "Early detection and timely treatment of mouth cancer is vital, and can lead to a significantly improved survival rate.

"It cannot be stressed enough - the earlier a cancer is detected, the better the treatment options and outcome."

Factors which can put people at risk of developing mouth cancer include regularly drinking a large amount of alcohol, smoking, poor diet, poor oral hygiene and the human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.

People who both smoke and regularly drink large amounts of alcohol increase their risk of developing the disease by 40 times.

Signs of mouth cancer include lumps in the mouth that grow, oral ulcers which do not heal after two weeks, persistent soreness in the mouth, bleeding in the mouth, red, white or mixed patches in the mouth and lumps on the neck.

Niall McGoldrick, a trainee at the Edinburgh Dental Institute, said: "This campaign will bring an extremely important message to the streets of Edinburgh and to a wider population via our social media campaign."

He said one of the key messages of the campaign was "if in doubt, check it out".

He added: "We would encourage people to be vigilant and screen their own mouths for the signs of mouth cancer."

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