Staff members at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle are supporting Oral Cancer Awareness month by highlighting the importance of people knowing symptoms of the cancer in order to detect it early, and trying to make people aware of risk factors that increase their chances of contracting the disease.
Even though it is one of the most aggressive cancers it has a relatively low profile, making early detection crucial to the survival rates of patients. The awareness month is centred on the slogan ‘If in doubt, get checked out’, as only early detection can improve survival rates.
Staff at the Cumberland Infirmary will be raising awareness by supporting the Blue Ribbon Appeal. The blue ribbon badges are worn to inspire conversation between people regarding the cancer and ultimately promote awareness through word of mouth.
Helen Murdock, Clinical Nurse specialist for head and neck cancer, said: “Recovery from the cancer can be a long process involving a multi-disciplinary team. The disease can require operations to stop the cancer spreading, which may lead to heavy facial scarring.
“The cancer also impacts heavily on patient’s lives because it can affect speech, confidence, ability to eat, social life and the patient’s ability to work, therefore a multi-disciplinary team is essential to aid recovery”. Professionals comprising the multidisciplinary team range from dieticians, head and neck specialists, therapists and psychologists to radiologists, ENT consultants, maxillo-facial surgeons and speech and language therapists.
The main causes of oral cancer are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and the HPV virus, if people have symptoms such as white patches in the mouth, unusual neck lumps or have an ulcer which has been there longer than two weeks they are urged to get checked out by a specialist.