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Free oral check ups for Darlington shoppers

As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month (1st - 30th November), shoppers in Darlington are being invited to have a free oral check up to raise awareness of mouth cancer and improve early detection.

Over the past 10 years the number of mouth cancer cases has doubled. Nearly 8,000 cases were diagnosed in 2011. Early diagnosis can improve survival chances by 90%.

The Oral Health Team at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is running a free screening event in Darlington market square on Thursday 14 November.

Members of the team will be available between 10am and 3.30pm to offer free checks and provide information about the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

Julie King, Oral Health Promotion Lead, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: "Early detection of mouth cancer can transform the 50% survival rate into an increase of 90%. Educating as many people within our community as possible about the risk factors, as well as the early warning signs, shall help us win the fight against mouth cancer in the long run."

Smokers and regular drinkers are at greatest risk of head and neck cancers.

However, better awareness and early detection saves lives. Symptoms to watch out for include:

• Hoarseness
• Pain of discomfort in the throat
• An ulcer on the tongue or another part of the mouth
• A lump or white patch in the mouth
• Painful or difficult swallowing
• A lump in the neck

Giving up smoking, reducing alcohol and eating a health diet can help reduce the risk of mouth cancer. Smoking helps to transforms saliva into a deadly cocktail that damages cells in the mouth and can turn them cancerous while drinking alcohol regularly can increase your risk of developing head and neck cancer. Drinking to excess can increase mouth cancer risks by four times. Alcohol aids the absorption of tobacco into the mouth, those who smoke and drink to excess are up to 30 times more likely to develop the disease.

Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help prevent cancers. Around half of cases are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet. It is recommended that people eat a healthy, balanced diet high in anti-oxidants including five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Increasing evidence also suggests that Omega 3, found in foods such as eggs and fish can help lower risks, as can foods high in fibre such as nuts, seeds, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice.

Regular dental visits are also recommended.

Published: 30 October 2013

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham