Stepping up the fight against mouth cancer

07 May 2021
1 min read

The OCDO has released its latest NHS dentistry and oral health bulletin, with a focus on oral cancer.

Sara Hurley, the CDO for England, and Professor Peter Johnson, the NHS national clinical director for cancer, have written a letter to colleagues about the need to prioritise patients with suspected mouth cancer.

The letter reads:

Dear colleague,

Around 8,300 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year in the UK, but by spotting mouth cancer early a complete cure is often possible in up to nine in 10 cases using surgery alone.

The NHS is clear – a patient with suspected mouth cancer is in urgent need and should be prioritised for a dental appointment.

We've pulled together a new NHS mouth cancer awareness leaflet so dental teams know what they need to think about when they spot the signs of mouth cancer – and when they are making sure their teams and colleagues are looking for the signs, too. In this bulletin, we've pulled together the key information you need to know. For many of you this is common knowledge, but we hope it is a useful aide that covers the basics.

We're also grateful to be so well supported in the fight against mouth cancer by our respected partners – the Mouth Cancer Foundation, the British Dental Association, the Oral Health Foundation and Cancer Research UK – who have all pulled together fantastic resources, from patient posters to detection toolkits which we share with you in this update and encourage you all to use.

Dental professionals are on the frontline in the fight against mouth cancer. Your clinical judgment is invaluable in spotting this disease early and so saving lives.

Thank you for continued vigilance and dedication.

Further guidance in the bulletin includes a reminder of the symptoms, types and risk factors of mouth cancer; information about detection kits, screening protocols and dental team responsibilities; and referrals guidelines.

You can view the full bulletin here.