After a chance meeting with his dentist, a North Shields resident was later told that the ‘irritating’ ulcer under his tongue was actually something very serious.
Now both men are warning others – as part of Mouth Cancer Action Month this November – to get any persistent mouth symptoms checked out if they have lasted longer than three weeks as stated in NHS guidelines.
At the time, Trevor Richardson did not think what he had, which turned out to be pre-cancer of the mouth, was serious enough to seek help.
But he happened to know dentist Ewan Bramley from a local pub and when Trevor saw him in a shop whilst getting lottery tickets one weekend, he showed him the ulcer.
Trevor was told to go and see him at his practice – Ewan Bramley Dental Care on North Shields Fish Quay – on the Monday and Ewan referred him on to Newcastle Dental Hospital straight away.
Just a week later, the 67-year-old had laser treatment to have part of his tongue removed to prevent cells from spreading, which, had they been left any longer, would have been cancer and potentially fatal.
He was then put on ‘specialist review’ at the oral and maxillofacial unit at the RVI in Newcastle every six months.
It was at one of his ‘review’ sessions in 2011, a year on from his first diagnosis, that another form of mouth cancer – squamous cell carcinoma – was detected on Trevor’s lower lip, which manifested only as a small tag of skin.
This was also removed and stopped in its tracks.
Trevor said: “It had been months, maybe even six months. My tongue was tingling and numb and I had an ulcer, but it wasn’t very painful and so I didn’t think it was that serious.
“I’m so glad I showed Ewan when I met him by chance that day. Things could have turned out horrendously if I hadn’t followed his advice.
“Please don’t be afraid of going to the dentist, even if you think ‘nothing to worry about’ – let them be the judge of that.”
He also thanked the experts and staff at the oral and maxillofacial unit for their on-going great support.
Ewan is offering anyone who is concerned about a symptom a free consultation and oral health check at his practice.
He said: “I just want to get the message out there that you should never assume ‘it’s nothing major’ or make your own assessment.
“If there’s something that has lasted for longer than three weeks, you must get it checked out by a dentist or your doctor if it’s something outside your mouth.”
“Don’t leave it to random chance like Trevor – things could have been very different had we not bumped into each other.”