Mouth cancer charity urges people to check themselves during lockdown

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A mouth cancer charity is encouraging members of the public to keep a close eye on their mouths during the lockdown. 

Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer is urging the four chief dental officers in the UK to support a campaign launched to encourage people to look out for signs and symptoms and to perform mouth self-examination (MSE) while practices are closed. Ordinarily, dentists perform routine screening during check-ups, looking for symptoms such as slow-healing ulcers, red or white patches in the mouth and throat and abnormal swelling or lumps.

As most practices have now been closed for several weeks, and it may be a long time before routine services resume, the charity is keen to stress the importance of being mouth aware and spotting potential signs of mouth cancer early. 

NHS dentist and charity trustee, Ewan MacKessak-Leitch, explained that the prolonged closure of clinics could result in some patients being diagnosed at a later stage. Dentists are often able to spot signs before they become apparent to patients, and this can increase the chances of survival dramatically. 

Barbara Boyd, a mouth cancer survivor from Kelty, is backing the campaign and encouraging everyone to examine themselves while practices are shut. Barbara, who claims that early diagnosis saved her life, explained that all that is needed is a mirror and a light. Using the hands, individuals can look inside the mouth and throat and check for any changes.

Anyone who does have concerns is advised to contact their dentist or their GP for urgent advice.

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