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British Dental Journal 222, 10 (2017)
Published online: 13 January 2017 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.17

Event report: Success for mouth cancer charity in Dundee

Ewan MacKessack-Leitch1

  1. Trustee & Treasurer, Let's Talk About Mouth Cancer

Event report: Success for mouth cancer charity in Dundee

November 2016 was a successful Mouth Cancer Action Month in Dundee. Scottish charity Let's Talk About Mouth Cancer partnered with students from the University of Dundee Dental School in raising awareness of this disease.

The aim of the campaign was to target higher risk groups with messages about mouth cancer signs and symptoms as well as counselling on risk reduction. Participants were then taught how to self-examine and the importance of early presentation.

The enthusiasm of the dental students from all years was clear throughout November. Non-registered and irregular attenders were reached via the walk-in Dental A&E clinic where 200 patients completed a survey on mouth cancer, before being shown how to self-examine.

In the main campaign week teams of final year students and core trainees participated in morning workshops designed to strengthen confidence in talking about mouth cancer and emphasise their responsibility to detect, refer and educate patients. In the afternoons this confidence was consolidated as the volunteers created and took their own targeted campaign to reach specific high-risk groups. Spread over Dundee these teams engaged university students, patients attending Ninewells Hospital, ethnic minorities at the Dundee International Women's Centre, and the general public on the high street.

Additionally a group of final year students on their own initiative took the campaign to Inverness where they were on outreach placement.

Public reaction was excellent, boosted by a visit from charity patron, former Scotland and British Lions rugby player, Scott Hastings. There was good press coverage and online social media engagement was fantastic; using the #mouthcheck hashtag, the Facebook page had a reach in excess of 20,000 helped for good measure by on-trend videos: 'the mannequin challenge' received over 4,900 views and a student-led 'boomerang video' had 1,900 views.

Reflecting on the month's endeavours Stephanie Sammut, Let's Talk About Mouth Cancer Secretary and Consultant Oral Surgeon at Dundee Dental Hospital, said: 'Thanks to staff and students for the fantastic energy and enthusiasm shown throughout the Dental Hospital & School. This action month wouldn't have been such a success without them. We should be proud of everyone's efforts to empower patients and the public in the fight against mouth cancer. We are already looking forward to our next event in Dundee!'

The campaign didn't stop in November; there are CPD lectures and other public engagement events planned for 2017. For more information see www.letstalkaboutmouthcancer.co.uk and to see the videos https://www.facebook.com/letstalkaboutmouthcancer.

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