Ayr United have teamed up with NHS Ayrshire & Arran in a bid to raise awareness of mouth cancer.

The NHS Oral Health Improvement Team is encouraging residents to be more mouth aware and recognise the early warning signs of mouth cancer, as part of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month.

Ayr United are supporting the campaign and helping to raise awareness, with information on mouth cancer being advertised in the club’s football programmes throughout the season.

With awareness of the disease remaining alarmingly low, the Oral Health Improvement Team say that a simple 45-second check is often all that’s needed to identify anything unusual and to be able to then seek professional guidance.

Stuart Hislop, Consultant in Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery at University Hospital Crosshouse, said: “Early diagnosis transforms the chances of beating mouth cancer from 50 per cent to 90 percent. So it is crucial that people know what to look out for and that they seek advice from a health professional sooner rather than later.

“A mouth ulcer that does not heal within three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area, can all be potential signs of mouth cancer so it’s important to be aware of any changes occurring inside your mouth.

“If you keep a lookout for these symptoms then a simple 45-second check really could save your life. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, please speak to your dentist or a doctor.”

With around 8,300 people in Britain diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, the disease is one of the UK’s fastest increasing cancers, with cases rising by a third in the last decade alone.

Survival rates of mouth cancer have not improved in the last 20 years and the Oral Health Foundation charity is concerned thattoo many mouth cancers are being diagnosed at a late stage, significantly reducing our chance to beat the disease.

Mouth cancer, which can appear anywhere in the mouth including the lips, tongue, cheek, throat and gums, can have a devastating effect on a person’s life, impacting on their breathing, eating and speech.

Reconstructive surgery could also change their appearance while the experience often has an impact on confidence and self-esteem.

Mr Hislop added: “By developing a greater understanding about the early warning signs and symptoms, the lifestyle factors which increase our risk, and recognising where to go if we notice anything unusual inside our mouth, we can detect mouth cancer early. This will not only improve our chances of beating it but will also reduce the amount of invasive surgery needed to treat it.

“During every dental check-up, your dentist will do a visual examination for mouth cancer and look for anything that might be a cause for concern. That’s why it’s so important to keep regular dental check-ups – it’s not just about the health of our teeth and gums – a trip to the dentist could really be a life saver.”