ASH and the British Dental Association join forces to mark Mouth Cancer Awareness Week.

Wednesday 07 November 2001

Action on Smoking and Health / British Dental Association press release



7 November 2001

Dentists join the fight against cancer

Visiting a dentist might not be high on most people’s list of things they like to do, but a new health awareness campaign shows that it might just save your life. November 11 marks the beginning of Mouth Cancer Awareness Week, a project supported by the British Dental Association (BDA) and ASH, which hopes to highlight the dangers of this debilitating and potentially deadly disease.

Someone dies from mouth cancer every five hours in the UK and for those diagnosed with the disease the outlook is bleak, with fewer than 50 per cent of those surviving five years. Those most at risk are smokers and drinkers over 40, but mouth cancer also hits ethnic communities hard, especially those from the Indian sub-continent who use chewing tobacco or betel nut.

The BDA’s Gordon Watkins is concerned that, while public knowledge of the disease may have been heightened following the death of journalist and author John Diamond, still too few realise that a simple dental check-up could lead to early diagnosis and better chances of recovery.

“It is often the simplest things which are the most effective, and for mouth cancer it’s the dental check-up. Your dentist isn’t just checking for decay or gum disease – they have the potential to save your life. The British Dental Association is encouraging its members to educate
their patients. After all, most people know that smoking is bad for their lungs and their heart, and that heavy drinking is tough on the liver – but do they know the damage they could be causing their mouths?”

That is why the BDA have joined forces with Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)to produce a leaflet on smoking for distribution through dental practices across the country. Save your mouth … and your life – stop smoking! explains to patients the harm that smoking does to oral health,
advises them the best ways to quit and tells them where to obtain furtheradvice and information.

Amanda Sandford of ASH said:

“Tobacco is the dominant cause of mouth cancer but the good news is that stopping smoking dramatically reduces the risk of this disfiguring and potentially fatal disease.  Dentists are well placed to offer patients advice on quitting smoking. Our new leaflet can help them to persuade
patients of the health benefits of stopping smoking and ultimately help to save lives.”

Notes to Editors

1. Mouth Cancer Awareness Week runs from 11-18 November and is supported by a number of dental and other health organisations, including the British Dental Association, British Dental Health Foundation, ASH and the Cancer Research Campaign.
2. The symbol for Mouth Cancer Awareness Week is a blue ribbon.
3. Mouth cancer includes cancers of the throat and neck.
4. Further information on the links between smoking and mouth
cancer can be found on the ASH website,
5. For further information, please contact the BDA Press Office on 020 75634580 or  BDA website:

Contact: Amanda Sandford, ASH – tel. 020 7739 5902 or
Jo Tanner BDA Press & Parliamentary Officer, Direct line: 020 7563 4146
Fax: 020 7563 4581