November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, an annual event to raise awareness of mouth cancer in order to help prevent it and promote early detection. Run by the British Dental Health Foundation, this year’s campaign will feature many ways to get involved, including the ‘blue lip selfie’, whilst many medical practices across the UK will be offering free checks.

About Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer rates are among the fastest growing in the UK, causing more deaths each year than those from cervical and testicular cancer combined. With over 6,700 people diagnosed last year, a number which is set to rise, raising awareness is more important than ever. Mouth Cancer Action Month has been taking place since 1998 as a response to increased diagnoses rates. Each year the campaign gets bigger and better, with this year’s campaign set to be the largest yet.

Research backed by the Glasgow University Dental School found that there were a number of factors which could increase the likelihood of contracting mouth cancer, including:

  • Poor oral health
  • Irregular dental checks
  • Smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • The Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Poor diet

As with other cancers, making simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and practicing good oral health can help reduce the risk of getting mouth cancer as well as ensuring a longer, healthier life. If you’re a smoker or use any form of tobacco, this is a good reason to try to quit. Cutting down on your alcohol intake can also help. Keep your lips protected from sun exposure and always use SPF products where possible.

One of the easiest ways to prevent mouth cancer is to go for a regular dental check-up. Even if you haven’t been for a while, making this small step could help through early detection, as well as help you to manage signs of poor oral health which can contribute to the disease.

Do your bit for Mouth Cancer Action Week

The British Dental Health Foundation has some great ideas to help you get involved for this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month. Whether you take part alone, with colleagues or with friends, there are plenty of things you can do to help raise money and awareness, including:

  • Blue Wednesday (18th November) – wear something blue and encourage others to do the same, whether it’s at your workplace, your child’s school or your university – a dress down day is a great way to raise some money and requires very little time and effort. Take plenty of photos and spread the word on social media.
  • Move for charity –take part in a sponsored run, cycle or walk and raise money for Mouth Cancer Action Week, every penny you raise will go towards helping people with mouth cancer.
  • Simply donate – We all have busy lives, but it takes just seconds to donate. Head to Mouth Cancer Action’s JustGiving page to help them reach their £10,000 target this month.

The money raised will help make a difference to those who have been affected by mouth cancer, including their families. It will also help raise vital awareness, particularly in some of the poorer areas of the UK, where mouth cancer is an increased risk. By doing your bit to raise money, no matter how small, you can help to reduce mouth cancer rates in the UK.

Strike a pose with the #BlueLipSelfie

One fun way to show your support is with the Blue Lip Selfie, a campaign being run by Denplan to help people show their support for mouth cancer awareness and spread the word. Taking part is easy. Simply take a photo and upload it to www.bluelipselfie.co.uk where you can customise your features for some cool and quirky selfies. If you’d prefer, you can use blue lipstick or a blue lips cut out, giving you plenty of options to get involved. Share your pictures with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #BlueLipSelfie and encourage others to get involved.

Being aware of mouth cancer and its causes is something to think about all year round, not just in November. The NHS website has some great resources on mouth cancer causes and symptoms, and if you’re at all concerned about mouth cancer, book an appointment with your doctor or dentist for a check-up.