The overall theme of this year’s campaign is “Stopping smoking protects your brain health”.
Smoking is one of the main causes of oral cancer, one of the most preventable types of cancer as over 90% of all cases could be avoided. However, oral cancer still kills more people each year than car accidents.
Dental teams have the opportunity to ensure early detection of oral cancer and can help save people’s lives, yet oral cancer cases continue to rise across the four UK countries. The incidence of oral cancer is set to double by 2035.
According to a report from the Oral Health Foundation, oral cancers across the UK are among the most unequally distributed, with the burden falling mainly on the most deprived areas. In England, mouth cancer rates increase by 68% for people living in deprived areas.
In Northern Ireland around 250 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, regularly at a late stage, with around a third of those diagnosed already dying from the disease.
There has been an increase in the incidence of oral and oropharyngeal cancers in the last 30 years with rates significantly higher in Scotland than the UK average, while in Wales, the number of new diagnoses of mouth cancer also continues to rise.
In the UK, awareness of the most common risk factors associated with oral cancer is poor. Especially in Scotland and Wales, where the incidence rates are the highest, 90% of adults claim to never have seen any educational or awareness material.
The NICE guidelines on interventions and services to help stop smoking include recommendations for health and social care professionals to start the conversation with patients who wish to stop smoking such as:
- Discuss how to stop (NCSCT programmes explain how to do this)
- Provide stop-smoking interventions and advice
- If you are unable to provide stop-smoking interventions, refer patients to local stop-smoking support if available
- If patients opt out of a referral to stop-smoking support, refer them to a professional who can offer pharmacotherapy and very brief advice.
Our oral cancer toolkit is also available to dental teams, alongside our cancer recognition CPD which provides advice on how to complete an examination of the mouth, oropharynx, and neck for reportable lesions.
We are proud to have signed up with the ASH Scotland charter for No Smoking Day, this year’s theme for their campaign is ‘Quit and Win’. If you are interested in taking part in No Smoking Day, ASH Scotland has produced a resource pack to help celebrate and raise awareness. For additional information on the day, you can email [email protected].