Oral cancer – dental consultant speaks out after patient discovers lump on jaw
An expert in restorative dentistry has hammered home the importance of routine check-ups after a woman discovered a lump on her jaw was oral cancer.
A report on the BBC describes the case of a 29-year-old from Paisley, Scotland, who got in touch with a dental hospital after experiencing pain in her jaw.
A CT and biopsy revealed she had developed a cancerous tumour called osteosarcoma.
Dr Beth Burns, a consultant in restorative dentistry at Glasgow’s dental school, emphasised the importance of dental teams in identifying signs of oral cancer.
She pointed out that dentists are constantly examining soft tissue in the mouth and, as a result, often spot early signs of disease.
Additionally, she urged the public to check their mouths and visit a dentist if they notice anything unusual.
Fall in referrals
This comes as the Oral Health Foundation revealed last year that mouth cancer referrals had dropped by one third since the beginning of the pandemic.
Data showed that referral appointments fell by 33% overall following the onset of COVID-19.
In Scotland, this figure stood at 30%, sparking calls for quick action surrounding diagnosis.
‘Regular dental check-ups and GP appointments are the main routes for identifying the early stages of mouth cancer,’ said Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation.
‘We fear that without access to dental and wider health professionals, many mouth cancer cases will go undiagnosed.
‘A person’s quality of life after being treated for mouth cancer, as well as their chances of beating the disease, is highly dependent on the time of diagnosis. By not treating so many potential mouth cancers, there is a real danger of more people losing their life to the disease.
‘While dental and GP visits remain disrupted it is important that everybody knows how to check themselves for mouth cancer.’
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