FREE cancer mouth checks which could save lives are being offered by an Evesham-based dental team.

The checks, provided by Evesham Dental Health Team, are on offer to mark Mouth Cancer Awareness Day on Wednesday, September 18.

Dr Vinod Joshi, founder, the Mouth Cancer Foundation said: “Lives could be saved today as members of the public in Evesham and surrounding area can take advantage of free mouth cancer screenings at Evesham Dental Health Team on the UK’s first ever Mouth Cancer Awareness Day." said Members of the public are being urged to phone Evesham Dental Health Team today on 01386 422833, to book their free mouth cancer screening appointment.

The screening will be led by Richard Colebourne. He said: “As we know from experience, early detection of mouth cancer is key to survival, and we hope to help save more lives by offering free mouth cancer screening on Mouth Cancer Awareness Day. As an accredited member of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, we want to raise awareness of the disease, and urge everyone to go to their dentist for regular screening.”

Dentists have a key role to play in the early detection of mouth cancer and in prevention of the disease by identifying those patients who are exposed to risk factors. In the UK, nearly 8000 people are diagnosed with Mouth Cancer every year.

Mouth Cancer Awareness Day runs in conjunction with the Mouth Cancer Foundation’s Mouth Cancer Screening Accreditation Scheme.

Mouth Cancer Foundation People’s Ambassador, Pat Jones, knows just how important it is that dentists carry out mouth cancer screening. She lost her daughter, Clare Jones, to tongue cancer at just 23 years old in March 2007. Now she is on a mission to raise as much awareness about this lesser known cancer as she can. She said: "25 per cent of mouth cancer cases are not associated with any known risk factor, hence the need for vigilance. Mouth Cancer Awareness Day is a great opportunity to get a free screening especially if you notice a lump in your mouth that wasn't there before or a mouth ulcer which lasts for more than 3 weeks. You must get it checked out immediately.”

Clare was a student at Loughborough University when she was first diagnosed in February 2003. She then faced an operation to remove the right side of her tongue, reconstruction with a flap from her right forearm and a neck dissection. By 2007, Clare had secondary bone cancer and bravely went through the treatments offered. It was a difficult time for her and she was very, very scared. She worried about the effects of chemo and fertility but finished her chemotherapy and was looking forward to a better 2007. Unfortunately, the MRI scans showed no change in the size of her cancer, which eventually spread to her brain. Clare’s family now live with a lifetime of heart break. Dentist, Dr Philip Lewis said: “The screening offers lots of benefits to practices. As well as saving lives it is a practice builder. It encourages footfall and trust. Mouth Cancer Awareness Day is about educating the public about screening. I can think of no activity more important for dental professionals than the early detection of mouth cancer.”

Cancers can occur in any part of the mouth, tongue, lips, and adjacent areas like the throat, salivary glands, pharynx, larynx, sinus, and other sites in the head and neck area. In its very early stages, these mouth cancers can be easy to ignore.

The Mouth Cancer Screening Accreditation Scheme is a ‘Two Minute to Save a Life’ screening protocol and 10 point checklist and recognises dental practices that demonstrate a visible commitment to increasing public awareness of mouth cancer and establish a documented referral pathway with a local specialist department.