Mouth Cancer Action Month takes place in November. As part of this national initiative, in 2016 the community dental services (CDS) spearheaded an education and screening day at the Vauxhall Motors plant in Luton.
The company was chosen for its profile of workers. Head and neck cancer is the fourth most common cancer in males and 93% are linked to lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol.1 However, it is increasing in females and younger people and the incidence rates as a whole are projected to rise by 2035.1
The CDS team included a foundation dentist, a dental nurse and two colleagues from the oral health promotion team. Two smoking advisors from Live Well Luton also supported our event.
We were overwhelmed with workers wanting to see the dentist for a screening and speak to the team. Thirty-two factory workers were screened and no referrals were made, but two smoking referrals were generated. One man was keen to share his experience and survival of mouth cancer, which he only discovered through a car accident.
There was incredible enthusiasm from the factory workers to learn more about oral cancer, many of them unaware that they have a screening every time they go to the dentist. With the emphasis on prevention and early diagnosis all workers were advised to visit their dentist regularly.
CDS plan to return to the Vauxhall plant this year. We would encourage other dental professionals to learn more about Mouth Cancer Action Month and get involved this year: www.mouthcancer.org. We also found the British Dental Association's (in partnership with Cancer Research UK) Oral Cancer Recognition Toolkit to be an invaluable resource for dental professionals and patients: https://www.doctors.net.uk/eClientopen/CRUK/oral_cancer_toolkit_2015_open/.