On the back of attending the Global Oral Cancer Forum LTAMC realised that just talking to the public and other health professionals could only address part of the mouth cancer challenge. Public policy changes will be necessary to further reduce the risks factors, promote early presentation and speed up detection by healthcare workers.
A significant cause of head & neck cancer can be Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), this virus is also the primary cause of cervical cancer. To this end throughout the UK a vaccination against HPV is given to teenage girls, however boys do not receive it. LTAMC are part of HPV Action (www.hpvaction.org) which lobby and campaign to correct this oversight. We believe in gender neutral vaccination so everybody can be protected from HPV and its potential to cause head & neck cancer (in addition to cancers of the anus, the vulva & vagina in women and the penis in men). HPV is estimated to be responsible for 5% of all cancers!
The first part of our efforts was to write a letter to Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport which detailed the sound reasoning behind our drive for extending HPV vaccination to teenage boys. A copy of this letter was sent to all 129 MSPs.
In support of our efforts Bill Bowman MSP kindly lodged Motion S5M-03752 advocating for gender neutral vaccination which was signed by MSPs from across the Holyrood chamber.
A letter in reply was received from the Scottish Government. We do not feel they addressed our arguments and are considering the next moves to further this cause.
Caring for Smiles
Caring for Smiles is Scotland’s national oral health promotion, training and support programme, which aims to improve the oral health of older people, particularly those living in care homes.
The training has been developed for:
- Care Staff
- Nursing Staff
- Oral Health Champions
- Care Home Managers
Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer is working with Caring for Smiles to raise awareness of mouth cancer for people who are not able to check their own mouths for signs. We believe it is vital that everyone has their mouths checked on a regular basis, and that any changes are reported early – an early diagnosis gives a much more positive prognosis. This can be difficult for those living in care homes, who sometimes struggle to visit a dentist regularly.
Working alongside the Caring for Smiles programme, we developed a training video and information leaflet to help equip carers throughout Scotland to check the mouths of the people they care for.
The campaign was launched in Glasgow in June 2017 – keep an eye on our Facebook page for regular updates!