The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) is calling all people in the North East to check their mouths for signs of cancer. Mouth checks should be routinely included within the price of a dental check-up and should take no more than one minute. But without access to dentist appointments during lockdown it is more important than ever to be aware of what a healthy mouth looks like.

Early detection is paramount to improving patient outcomes – as these types of cancers can be extremely aggressive, disfiguring and life limiting. Professor Mark McGurk, co-founder and trustee of HNCF has produced a series of videos at home in which he discusses the most at-risk areas for developing head and neck cancers, and how you can best identify any indications of these.

In these videos Professor Mark McGurk covers skin cancers and melanomas, conditions associated with the salivary glands, symptoms of cancers that develop in the lower throat, back of the mouth and oral cancers.

To find out what to look for and how to check the different areas of the mouth please watch HNCF’s videos here: https://hncf.org.uk/self-diagnosis

For those patients who do detect mouth cancer early, technological and medical innovation means that treatment can now be offered in a much less invasive manner, by using the Sentinel Node Biopsy technique (SNB). SNB is an alternative, and significantly less invasive treatment for dealing with head and neck cancers. The fluorescent camera and technology locates the nodes in the neck that will contain migrating cancer cells, so that these can be targeted and removed – this saves over 70% of patients with early disease a neck dissection. It spares vital glands and helps patients get back to a normal life more quickly, compared to traditional neck dissection techniques.

SNB has been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is fully adopted in Denmark and the Netherlands, and is growing in deployment across Europe and the US. This practice, pioneered by Professor Mark McGurk, is the result of 15 years’ development and is based on the findings of nearly 500 cases.

HNCF works to educate and train both surgeons and nurses around the UK on this treatment and state-of-the-art technology, to bring a better outcome and time-saving treatment to oral cancer patients.

Visit the charity’s website at www.hncf.org.uk to find out more.