The Regional Municipality of Durham

News Release

Health Department is raising oral cancer awareness for Oral Health Month

WHITBY, ON March 31, 2017 - April is Oral Health Month and Durham Region Health Department wants residents to “look past their lips” to check for oral cancer. Throughout April, residents are encouraged to participate in the #bluelipselfiedurham campaign to help promote oral health and cancer awareness. Show off your creative blue lips and post a selfie on social media using the hashtag #bluelipselfiedurham on Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms. Also, spread the word by encouraging your family and friends to do the same.

“Many people don’t realize that oral cancer is one of the top ten types of cancer affecting Canadians, although it is almost entirely preventable,” said Dr. Patricia Abbey, Director of Oral Health with Durham Region Health Department. “Oral cancer is also one of the most lethal types of cancers, killing approximately one out of every four diagnosed, because it is not often diagnosed until it has advanced to a point in which treatments are not as effective. With early detection, survival rates are improved by as much as 90 per cent and the risk of spreading to other parts of the body is significantly reduced. This is why prevention and awareness is extremely important.”

Residents are encouraged to look carefully at their mouths and lips. They need to look for changes in colour, feel for lumps and bumps, and listen to the sound of their own voices for signs of oral cancer. When in doubt, get it checked out.

“Your family dentist and dental hygienist are trained to spot cancers of the head and neck, and are often looking for this at every visit,” explains Dr. Abbey. “This is another important reason to visit your dentist regularly. We encourage you to ask your dentist about oral cancer checks during your next visit, especially if you relate to any of the common risk factors.”

Common risk factors include the use of tobacco (including betel quid or Paan) and alcohol products, sun exposure and HPV infection. Oral cancer can occur anywhere in and/or around the mouth including your lips, throat, tonsils, tongue and floor or roof of your mouth.

Visit for more information about oral cancer awareness, prevention and how to participate in this fun and interactive campaign. Also follow the Health Department on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to become part of the social conversation.

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Media inquiries

The Regional Municipality of Durham:
Cameron McDonald - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 3094 or

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For more information, please contact Health Department.