14 December 2020

Dental School raises awareness and funds for Mouth Cancer Action Month

2020 has been a challenging year due to the Covid-19 pandemic with charities particularly hit hard as a result of lockdowns and social distancing rules ruling out conventional means fundraising.

However, this did not deter our staff members and students who came up with numerous creative ways to raise funds for Mouth Cancer Action Month.

Multiple shots of people with blue lips graphic on mouth

12 hour Virtuathon

On Tuesday 17th November, Dr Ali Khurram, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Consultant Pathologist at The School of Clinical Dentistry and Charles Clifford Dental Hospital hosted a 12 hour virtuathon to raise awareness of mouth cancer.  Streamed live on the Oral Health Foundation YouTube channel, Ali was joined by colleagues, mouth cancer survivors as well as medical and dental experts to talk about experiences and challenges related to mouth cancer diagnosis, as well as shed some light on the thinking of clinicians and discuss 'what happens behind the scenes'.  In addition to Ali’s experience and knowledge sharing throughout the day, other stand out speakers included Chris Curtis (a mouth cancer survivor and founder of The Swallows Head & Neck Cancer Support Group and Charity), Dr Bernie Foran (Consultant Oncologist, Sheffield), Dr Tim Bracey (Consultant Pathologist, Plymouth), Dr Denise MacCarthy (Restorative Dentistry, Dublin) as well as School of Clinical Dentistry’s Professor Dan Lambert who discussed exciting research developments in our understanding of the microenvironment of mouth cancer. 

Senior PR and Press Officer of the Oral Health Foundation, Stephen Loat said the event had been a “real highlight of their 2020 campaign”, raising £1361 for Mouth Cancer Action.

Talking about the event and what it means to the Mouth Cancer Action campaign, Dr Ben Atkins, President of the Oral Health Foundation said “It’s hard to estimate the true impact of an event like this however there is no doubt that through the streaming event, and the money it has raised, more people are going to be mouth aware when it comes to mouth cancer.

"By spreading awareness of the symptoms, risk factors and impact of the disease we can save lives and events like these are vital for spreading these messages. Last year over 8,700 Brits were diagnosed with mouth cancer, that’s an average of one every hour. Over the last 20 years rates of the disease have risen 97% in the UK while deaths have increased by 48%. We hope that through our Mouth Cancer Action campaign, along with the help of our supporters, we can reduce these numbers in the years to come and ultimately save lives.” 

Professor Chris Deery, Dean of the School of Clinical Dentistry said The Virtuathon was very impressive, I was fortunate enough to hear Chris Curtis’s piece. I take my hat off to Ali Khurram for thinking of such a clever and engaging idea in these times of social distancing." 

The 12-hour-streaming-event has been watched over 1,100 times and can be viewed here

Mouth cancer is the most common form of head and neck cancer, the 6th most common cancer in the world, and is just one of the head and neck cancers being studied by a team of academic researchers, clinicians and postgraduate researchers at the School of Clinical Dentistry. Posing a series of major clinical challenges, early diagnosis is key to successful treatment and survival, and key areas of research conducted at the School centre around tumour invasion and metastasis, in vitro cancer models, diagnostic markers and targeting the tumour microenvironment. 

Professor Paul Hatton, Director of Research said “The School of Clinical Dentistry is a major centre for research in head and neck cancer, with projects spanning disease biology through to early detection which is key to saving lives.  I am very proud of the research and related initiatives led by my clinical and non-clinical colleagues.”

Dental Students get active and creative in the name of charity

Between the 21st and 29th November 2020, Sheffield University Dental Students’ Society (SUDSS) held their annual Mouth Cancer Awareness Week (MCAW). During this week, they held a variety of virtual events aimed at raising awareness and money for another mouth cancer charity, Mouth Cancer Foundation.

Their first event was a “Travel 5, Donate 5” challenge. This was held across Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November. In this, members were tasked to walk, cycle, swim or run at least 5 km and then donate £5 on their JustGiving page. It saw people travel in total hundreds of kilometres in various forms for a great cause! The second event was an online quiz on Wednesday 25th November, hosted by the SUDSS social secretaries, Jonny and Ryan. There was a great turnout and it was a great evening with a mixture of general knowledge questions that got the brain cells working! The week ended with a bake off where entrants sent in a photograph of their bakes and a description of it. A variety of entries were received from teeth to tunics and even a petri dish with the nastiest oral bacteria on it (in edible form of course)! This was judged by the SUDSS ball secretaries, Abbie and Ella and was a fitting end to a brilliant week!

SUDSS had a brilliant turnout to their week's events, and engagement from students and staff was so great to see! It really is a credit to the dental community at Sheffield and the SUDSS final total for the Mouth Cancer Foundation was £502.75. It is in no doubt that this money will be put to good use in the vital and inspiring work of the foundation.

SUDSS President, James Smith, said "I want to pass on the HUGE thanks of SUDSS to all our students and staff who got involved with MCAW this year. Your engagement and dedication made MCAW another incredible success this year!"

These efforts were also acknowledged by Professor Chris Deery (Dean of the School of Clinical Dentistry) who commented  As ever SUDSS excelled in their enthusiasm and in thinking out of the box. I hope there is a “bake off” next year where we get to taste as well as look at the work of this talented bunch of bakers.”