Today is all about wearing something blue.
That’s because it is Blue Wednesday, a day dedicated to raising awareness of mouth cancer.
Around 90% of mouth cancers can be cured if caught early with cancer on the lips, tongue and oral cavity more likely to be tackled affectively.
Here is everything you need to know.
What is Blue Wednesday?
Mouth Cancer awareness day is called Blue Wednesday after Blue Monday… but rather than Blue Monday being about the weekend never leaving you, Blue Wednesday is about the cancer blues that never leave people.
The day is held in November each year with this year’s Mouth Cancer Awareness Day falling November 15.
What is mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer is where a tumour develops inside the mouth. This may be on the lips, tongue, inside of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, lips or gums. It can also develop in the saliva glands, tonsils and part of the throat.
There are three types of mouth cancer, early, intermediate and advanced.
Early mouth cancer is usually curable – hence the need to raise awareness of the condition – while with intermediate mouth cancer there is a high chance of cure but there may be a need for a long operation and radiotherapy. There is a lower chance of cure with advanced mouth cancer.
Mouth cancer symptoms
Mouth cancer can affect the lips and gums as well as the throat. Symptoms include:
1) sore mouth ulcers that don’t heal within several weeks
2) unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth that don’t go away
3) unexplained, persistent lumps in the lymph glands in the neck that don’t go away
4) pain or difficulty when swallowing (dysphagia)
5) changes in your voice or speech problems
6) unexplained weight loss
7) bleeding or numbness in the mouth
8) a tooth, or teeth, that becomes loose for no obvious reason, or a tooth socket that doesn’t heal
9) difficulty moving your jaw
10) red or white patches on the lining of your mouth – these are common and are very rarely cancerous, but they can sometimes turn into cancer, so it’s worth seeing a specialist if you have them
It is important to see your dentist regularly, especially those who smoke, drink heavily, or chew the betel nut, which is common in Asia. Those who chew tobacco, betel, have HPV or have a poor diet are more likely to contract mouth cancer.
How mouth cancer is diagnosed
Those who have these symptoms for more than three weeks should see their GPs.
Mouth cancer is diagnosed through either a biopsy, fine needle aspiration cytology, nasendoscopy, panendoscopy, X-ray, ultrasound MRI scan, CT scan and PET scan.
More information on these on the NHS website.
How mouth cancer is treated
Mouth cancer can be treated with a combination of operation, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Medication called Cetuximab can also be prescribed as well as photodynamic therapy (PDT).
More information on how mouth cancer is treated can be found on the NHS website.
How to mark Blue Wednesday
The day is all about wearing something blue for Blue Wednesday.
This may either be a blue item of clothing or a blue ribbon.
It’s all about showing your support for raising awareness of mouth cancer – and that means checking out social media where possible as well.
The hashtag most are using is #bluewednesday
You can also donate to the Oral Health Foundation here.
Where to buy a blue ribbon
If you want to wear a blue ribbon to mark Blue Wednesday, you can buy one at the Oral Health Foundation. There are also blue umbrellas and even blue lipstick. Otherwise, just wear something blue.
A number of dentists may also be selling blue ribbons.