People who have red or white patches on their mouth or tongue don’t often connect them with cancer.
But this is one of the symptoms of the disease that kills more than 2,000 in the UK every year.
The cure rate is high when it’s detected early, which is why the Luton&Dunstable Hospital is holding two free screening clinics on Tuesday (November 26) for anyone who may be concerned or who would like more information.
These will take place in the oral and maxillo-facial unit from 10am to 12 noon and from 2pm to 4pm.
Associate medical director and surgeon Mr Chi-Hwa Chan said: “Unfortunately about half of the patients who have mouth cancer don’t seek medical advice or treatment until the disease has reached an advanced stage and the outlook by then is often poor.
“The good news is that if mouth cancers are found and treated early, the cure rate is high. “They can be detected early, so if you have worrying symptoms, our advice is to see your GP or dentist straight away because where cancer is concerned, early treatment saves lives.
He added: “To help make more people aware of the possible signs, specialists from our maxillo-facial unit will be available at the mouth screening clinic.”
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
> one or more mouth ulcers that don’t heal after three weeks
> a swelling in your mouth that lasts more than three weeks
> pain when swallowing
> persistent pain in the neck
> unexplained weight loss
> changes in your sense of taste
> a tooth – or teeth – that becomes loose for no apparent reason
> a hoarse voice
> lymph nodes (glands) in your neck become swollen
Many of these symptoms can be caused by less serious conditions, such as minor infections.
But if they persist for more than three weeks, it’s important to seek medical advice - particularly if you’re a heavy drinker or smoker.
> There will be a cake sale in the L&D foyer on Tuesday from 10am. It’s in aid of the hospital’s Head & Neck Charitable Fund and The Mouth Cancer Foundation.