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November 2014 – Mouth Cancer Action Month

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    Mouth Cancer Action month is held in November every year in conjunction with the Dental Health Foundation and the Mouth Cancer Foundation. Here, I will look at the symptoms and the importance of early detection and prompt treatment of mouth cancer.

    By Ali Cloak

What is mouth cancer and what are the symptoms?

The British Dental Health Foundation report that, in the UK, more than 6,700 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year.  Contributory factors include smoking, drinking alcohol, poor diet and HPV (human papillomavirus).

The symptoms can vary greatly depending on a number of factors but indicators may include:

• Lumps in the mouth
• Patches of discolouration
• Pain when chewing or swallowing
• Swelling in the neck
• Chronic sore throat
• Long term soreness or ulcer

Mouth cancer is responsible for over 2,000 deaths each year in the UK, which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined.

Treatment

Once diagnosed, treatment of mouth cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The exact management will depend on the size and location of the mouth cancer and the stage at which it is detected.

The earlier mouth cancer is diagnosed, the earlier that appropriate treatment can commence and the more likely it is the patient will have a favourable outcome.

As the condition develops, treatment options become more extreme, such as involving more toxic treatments, radical surgery and increased associated symptoms.

The importance of seeking early advice can not be emphasised enough, even where the symptoms may seem apparently minor.

Unfortunately, mouth cancer is one of a few cancers which is estimated to increase further in the next few years, rather than decreasing. This is one reason why raising awareness is so important.

Dental Negligence

My colleagues and I are fully supportive of the Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign.  The Dental Negligence Team have acted for claimants where their dentist has failed to adequately investigate or appreciate the symptoms complained of.  Such delays can have significant consequences, and can be fatal.  We therefore fully appreciate the importance of earlier detection and the need to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms of mouth cancer.

If you feel you have experienced delay in the diagnosis of mouth cancer or inappropriate treatment, then please contact a member of the Dental Negligence team who will provide you with specialist independent legal advice.

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