Be #mouthaware and take your oral health seriously – Chief Dental Officer

Date published: 18 November 2022

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, when everyone is encouraged to be #mouthaware by looking after their oral health.

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More than two thirds of mouth cancer cases in the UK affect men, so ahead of International Men’s Day tomorrow, we are asking men to take their oral health seriously.

The major risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco use and alcohol consumption.

In the UK, almost one person every hour is diagnosed with mouth cancer.

Caroline Lappin, Northern Ireland’s Chief Dental Officer, says many of the patients at greatest risk often do not regularly attend a doctor or dentist.

“For those who drink alcohol heavily and also smoke, the risk of mouth cancer increases significantly,” Ms Lappin says.

“Oral cancer is also strongly related to older age.  Early identification, diagnosis and treatment can achieve better outcomes for patients.”

Unfortunately, oral cancer does not cause many symptoms in the early stages and can go unnoticed for some time.

The signs and symptoms of mouth cancer include:

  • A mouth ulcer that does not heal within three weeks;
  • White or red patches in the mouth;
  • Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth, head or neck;
  • Any persistent hoarseness.

Ms Lappin urged anyone who is concerned about a mouth ulcer that is not healing, a red or white patch in their mouth, or an unexplained lump in the mouth or neck to contact a dentist and explain their concern.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Mouth Cancer Action Month is the UK's biggest charity campaign for mouth cancer awareness.
  2. Official statistics for head and neck cancer, which includes the mouth, diagnosed in Northern Ireland are due to be published on 14 December 202
  3. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by e-mail
  4. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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